The UK is to become the first European country to launch spaceflight and satellite launches from its home soil with the announcement of the passing of a new legislatory framework.

The framework will regulate the UK space industry and enable launches to take place within the UK for the very first time. The government has said the move will unlock a potential £4 billion of market opportunities over the next decade, creating thousands of jobs across the UK.

Spaceports will create highly skilled jobs

Satellite launches could improve sat nav systems on Earth and improve monitoring of weather patterns and climate change. Planned spaceport sites across the UK will create a significant number of highly skilled jobs, with the potential for launches to take place from 2022.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We stand on the cusp of the new commercial space age, and this is the ‘blast off’ moment for the UK’s thriving space industry, demonstrating government’s commitment to put Britain at the global forefront of this sector.”

“The regulations will help create new jobs and bring economic benefits to communities and organisations right across the UK, helping us to level up as we inspire the next generation of space scientists and engineers.”

CAA appointed as industry regulator

Shapps added that the announcement came alongside the formal appointment of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as the industry regulator which has a proven track record in overseeing the aviation sector in the UK and experience in regulating rocket activities under the Air Navigation Order 2016.

He added: “In time, we will also start to see new and emerging space activity including sub-orbital space tourism and, eventually, new transport systems such as hypersonic flight. Not only will this support our thriving space sector, it will also attract companies from around the globe to come to, and benefit from, these commercial opportunities.”

First launches set to take place in 2022

Science Minister Amanda Solloway added: “The first satellite launches from UK spaceports in 2022 will be a remarkable moment – and these new regulations have taken us a step closer to being the first country in Europe to achieve lift-off from home soil. By creating world-class legislation to support our growing space sector in a safe and sustainable way, we are delivering new jobs and economic growth to communities right across the UK.”

ADS Chief Executive Kevin Craven said: “The applications of space technology are rapidly evolving and the UK’s dynamic space sector is set to continue growing its £16 billion contribution to our economy.”

“Putting in place this regulatory framework is another important step towards making commercial space launch from UK spaceports a reality, which will offer major opportunities throughout our space industry and its supply chain.”

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