Satellites and rockets could launch from UK soil in 2022, with spaceports planned for Cornwall, Wales and Scotland. as another barrier to space exploration from UK soil is lifted today, with spaceports expected to be in operation from next summer. Developed with the UK Space Agency and the Civil Aviation Authority, new regulations being laid in Parliament today will mean satellites and rockets can launch from UK soil for the first time – with spaceports planned for Cornwall, Wales and Scotland.
Future satellite launches will improve our access to data and communications, and revolutionise services such as satellite navigation and earth observation - enhancing the way we live, work, travel and interact with our planet.
Space exploration has a long history of inspiring us all to consider our impact on the Earth, and access to space is essential as we tackle global environmental issues such as climate change.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "This is a pivotal moment for our spaceflight ambitions. 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 4 corners of our nation."
The legislation, laid just 2 weeks before the G7 summit in Cornwall, will come into force this summer and will help propel the development of commercial spaceflight technologies, from traditional rockets to high-altitude balloons and spaceplanes.
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, which will dramatically reduce aviation travel times.
UK spaceport launches will help create new jobs and offer economic benefits to communities across the country, as well as inspiring the next generation of space scientists.
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.
Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: "Continuing to grow our launch capability will help bring jobs and economic benefits across the UK. The Space Industry Regulations we’ve tabled today will create a supportive, attractive and safe environment for commercial spaceflight.
"Today marks another crucial milestone that will enable the first launches from British soil in 2022 and make UK commercial spaceflight a reality."
Skyrora CEO, Volodymyr Levykin said: "Today the UK moved a step closer to offering launch capabilities within the next year, signalling its intent to continue as a global power in the space economy. These regulations will help to unlock the huge economic opportunity that is launch in the UK and provide a number of options to get cutting-edge technology into orbit and create new commercial industries.
"Britain has a long heritage in rocket engineering, from Black Arrow 50 years ago, to the talent spread across the globe today, working in space organisations and private companies. With the steps taken today and different spaceports being developed, the UK has an opportunity to bring much of that talent back home and inspire the next generation. As an Edinburgh-based company, Skyrora is proud to be helping new generations of engineers gain vital, practical experience on launch vehicles to help shape the future of commercial space.
"Our Skyrora XL three-stage rocket is on track to be ready for launch in 2022, along with our space tug - which can play a pivotal role in efforts to clear space debris and we’re proud that we’ll be ready to offer these capabilities from UK soil."