UK Spaceports set for lift-off with passing of Space Industry Bill

British businesses will soon be able to compete in the commercial space race using UK spaceports following the passing of the Space Industry Bill.

UK Spaceports
Artists impression of a UK Spaceport

Receiving Royal Assent on 15 March 2018, the bill is hoped to build on Britain’s existing expertise in the space sector by unlocking a new era of space innovation, exploration and investment.

It is envisaged that British businesses and institutions will be able to launch small satellites and scientific experiments from UK spaceports, which are also expected to facilitate future developments including hypersonic flight and high-speed point-to-point transport.

Science minister Sam Gyimah said: “The Space Industry Bill offers an exciting opportunity for the UK to…be at the forefront of the commercial space age. Through the government’s ambitious Industrial Strategy, we are working with the sector to pursue pioneering commercial space opportunities, including developing new technologies, infrastructure and services. This will open up the UK to new frontiers, transforming the way we live, and establishing us as a space flight leader.”

A quarter of all telecoms satellites are substantially built in Britain and satellite services already support more than £250bn of GDP in the wider UK economy. UK spaceports would give Britain access to a launch market worth an estimated £10bn over the next decade.

Eight new projects have also been announced by Gyimah as part of the UK Space Agency’s Space for Smarter Government Programme, which hopes to demonstrate the potential of using satellite technology to solve challenges faced by the public sector.

These projects range from using satellite data and machine learning technology to support the roll out of charging points for electric vehicles, to deploying drones and satellites to help combat marine waste.

Dr Graham Turnock, chief executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “The Space Industry Bill guarantees the sky is not the limit for future generations of engineers, entrepreneurs and scientists. We will set out how we plan to accelerate the development of the first commercial launch services from the UK, and realise the full potential of this enabling legislation over the coming months.”

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