Following the Department of Transports (DfTs) recently introduced regulations, space flights and satellite launches are now permitted to take place in the UK, with the first expected next year. This means that people will be able to visit space for a holiday!
This UK launch will mark the first ever launch from any European country, as many European companies currently launch from a site in French Guiana, South America.
DfT believe that this new regulatory framework has “a potential £4bn of market opportunities over the next decade”, following plans to build spaceport sites across the UK, including in Scotland and Cornwall. The UK is hoped to become Europe’s most attractive destination for commercial spaceflight activities. DfT have also claimed that space tourism trips and hypersonic flights will eventually launch from the UK. Furthermore, the industry intends to launch satellites to improve satnav systems and boost the monitoring of weather patterns and climate change.
The government have agreed to provide £31.5 million to help set up vertical launch services from Scotland, and a further £7.35 million to Spaceport in order to support a horizontal launch in Cornwall. Business plans will also be made for suborbital flights from airports in Machrihanish, Snowdonia and Cornwall. On top of this, another £99 million is to be invested in a new National Satellite Test Facility in Harwell, and £60 million towards the development of a revolutionary hybrid air-breathing rocket engine.
The first UK Pathfinder launch – funded by UKSA – will take place in 2022, seeing Lockheed Martin team up with ABL Systems to launch from SaxaVord Spaceport in Unst.
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, had boasted that “we stand on the cusp of the new commercial space age”, adding that “this is the blast-off moment for the UK’s thriving space industry”. Shapps acknowledged the government’s commitment towards this sector, which will ultimately result in the creation of new jobs and economic benefits across UK communities and organisations.
The UK space industry is being regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority.