The government has tabled legislation – The Space Industry Regulations – that it believes will “help propel the development of commercial spaceflight technologies”, from traditional rockets to high-altitude balloons and spaceplanes.
The planned legislation is due to come into force this summer, meaning recognised Spaceports could seek a licence to operate across the UK.
The government is suggesting the first launches from British soil could be seen in 2022, putting the UK in pole position for launches into orbit from Europe.
“This is a pivotal moment for our spaceflight ambitions,” said 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 4 corners of our nation.”
The planned legislation is due to come into force this summer.
It is hoped that UK spaceport launches will help create new jobs and offer an economic boost.
“Continuing to grow our launch capability will help bring jobs and economic benefits across the UK,” said Science Minister Amanda Solloway. “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.”
The UK Space Agency currently recognises seven spaceports. Five are in Scotland, one in Wales and one in England.
They are: Spaceport 1 (Scolpaig Farm, North Uist,Outer Hebrides, Scotland), Spaceport Machrihanish (Campbeltown, Argyll, Scotland), Prestwick Spaceport (Prestwick, South Ayrshire, Scotland), Space Hub Sutherland (A’ Mhòine peninsula, Sutherland, Scotland), Shetland Space Centre (Lamba Ness, Unst, Shetland Islands, pictured), Spaceport Snowdonia (Llanbedr, Gwynedd, Wales) and Spaceport Cornwall (Cornwall Airport, Newquay, England).