New laws start exciting era for UK space industry

The Space Industry Bill was given royal assent on the 15 March 2018, paving the way to build a spaceport in the UK. The Bill is part of the government's plan to increase the UK's share of the global space industry to 10 per cent by 2030.

Several sites have been shortlisted as potential homes for a new spaceport. Credit: UK Space Agency

Several sites have been shortlisted as potential homes for a new spaceport. Image Credit: UK Space Agency

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Royal Assent was given to a new set of space laws, the Space Industry Bill, on 15 March 2018, opening up an exciting age of space innovation and investment in the UK.

The Bill will allow the first commercial space launch from UK soil, paving the way for the creation of a new spaceport, the building of which would create hundreds of new jobs and generate billions of pounds for the UK economy.

“The Space Industry Bill offers an exciting opportunity of the UK to soar to new heights and be at the forefront of the commercial space age,” says Sam Gyimah, the UK Science Minister.

“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.”

The UK is already a global hub for satellite manufacturing, operation and development, with one in every four telecom satellites being substantially built in Britain.

It’s currently estimated that the space industry is worth an estimated £250 billion to the wider UK economy.

The Space Industry Bill is the first step on the UK government’s path to increasing Britain’s global share of the world space market from 6.5 per cent to 10 per cent by 2030.

The laws would allow the government to achieve another of its goals – building a spaceport which would allow the domestic launch of small satellites and scientific experiments – as well as future developments such as hypersonic flights.

The UK Space Agency’s Space for Smarter Government Programme has set up several projects to demonstrate the usefulness of space technology, such as using satellite data to support creating charging points for electric vehicles.

In addition, over 1,000 space sector apprenticeships have been created to encourage the next generation to take up space based careers.

“The Space Industry Bill guarantees the sky is not the limit for future generations of engineers, entrepreneurs and scientists,” says Graham Turnock, the Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency.

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“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.”