The UK government on Monday laid before the British Parliament its Space Industry Regulations, which provide for the licensing and regulation of commercial spaceports in the country. The legal framework for these regulations is provided by the 2018 Space Industry Act. The regulations will be approved by resolutions in both Houses of Parliament.
“This is a pivotal moment for our spaceflight ambitions,” highlighted UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. “Since the start of the spaceflight programme in 2017, we have been clear that we want to be the first country to launch into orbit from Europe. The laying of these regulations puts us firmly on track to see the first UK launches take place from 2022, unlocking a new era in commercial spaceflight for all four corners of our nation.”
The regulations will come into force during the northern summer. They will permit both vertical launch, by rockets from the ground, and horizontal launch, in which rockets are dropped from carrier aircraft (popularly called ‘motherships’). They will also permit the use of high-altitude balloons and, in the future, and development and use of hypersonic and spaceplanes.
“Continuing to grow our launch capability will help bring jobs and economic benefits across the UK,” pointed out UK Science, Research and Innovation Minister (equivalent to Deputy Minister in South Africa) Amanda Solloway. “The Space Industry Regulations we’ve tabled [on Monday] will create a supportive, attractive and safe environment for commercial spaceflight. [Monday] marks another crucial milestone that will enable the first launches from British soil in 2022 and make UK commercial spaceflight a reality.”
No fewer than seven commercial spaceports are currently under development or planned in the UK. Five are in Scotland, with one each in Wales and Cornwall (in England). Of these, four are focused on horizontal launch and three (all in Scotland) on vertical launch. Five of these spaceports, including all three vertical launch sites, should be ready to start launches into orbit by next year.
The UK government expects the development of spaceports in the country to stimulate both economic and technological development and boost all aspects of the British space industry and wider space sector, as well as attract foreign launch business and investment. Such is the essential and ubiquitous use of space technology today that it would also boost many other sectors of the economy, as well as assisting in addressing both national and global challenges.
This Article firstly Publish on www.engineeringnews.co.za