Space launch from UK soil has moved closer to reality with the drawing to a close of the spaceport and spaceflight regulatory consultation carried out by the UK government.
UK from space at night.
Image By NicoElNino / Copyright Shutterstock
During recent weeks, an initiative led by the Scottish Space Leadership Council’s (SSLC) newly formed UK Spaceport Alliance brought representatives from each of the UK’s developing launch sites together to focus their collective attention on the recently finalised Consultation, initially published by HM Government on 29th of July.
Active discussion, research, and the sharing of a practical understanding of how to apply the proposed regulations across a broad, diverse and collaborative cross-section of the UK Space sector, have been the highlights of a set of workstreams set up to engage wider UK space stakeholders and address specific aspects of the Spaceflight consultation. The focus of the workstreams themselves included the enviornmental and safety aspects of the launch process along side the roles of the key participants, identifying the risks, liabilities and the insurance aspects, establishing best practices in a concept of operations.
The SSLC and UK Spaceport Alliance adopted a considered approach to providing the regulator with not just answers to the questionnaire, but also proposals from space industry across the UK in relation to how the questions might be considered differently, and indeed what further recommendations industry can make. The ultimate aim being to help the UK leverage its exciting opportunity to create sustainable, world class regulations for the launch of small satellites, thereby supporting the burgeoning UK commercial space sector to reach its full potential and enabling a host of cross-sectoral benefits, contributing to economic growth and monitoring environmental change.
The value of a UK wide collaborative approach was demonstrated in a recent series of workshops that the Leadership Council held prior to the consultation. The workshops showed the strong collaborative instinct of the UK Space sector and produced a valuable common understanding of the issues that the sector faces, as well as its many strengths and opportunites. The workshop outputs, recomendations and actions led to a common agreement to continue this activity in greater depth, creating the Workstreams which have allowed companies, individuals and organisations to contribute to a sectoral response to the Consultation. The workstreams have, through collaboration, enabled collective learning and an aligned understanding of the complicated issues around launch, such as range management, the need for environmentally conscious propulsion systems and how a modernised approach can fit into our existing aerospace management system.
The SSLC recognises the challenge faced by the regulator to create the rules for spaceflight and for this reason, the proposal to seek to make progress in such a way has demonstrated the critical role to be played by industry in assisting the development of such regulation.
Chair of the UK Spaceports Alliance John Innes stated: “We are extremely grateful for the time and effort invested by our members and the wider SSLC to enable us to share our feedback and recommendations in such a manner. What is more, we have received preliminary indication that this approach has been welcomed and recognised by the regulator. I have been very impressed by the spirit of collaboration across the spaceports Alliance and the broader UK space sector. There is a common understanding that a strong sectoral level will enable individual businesses to do well and that the UK working collaboratively can succeed in an intensely competitive international market.
“The consulation process has been a significant step forward towards UK Launch. The SSLC, Spaceports Alliance and the broader UK Space Sector looks forward to working collaboratively with the Government and it’s agencies to take the next steps to developing the regualtions and enabling the UK’s access to orbit.”