UK to become first European country to launch spacecraft

Legislation enabling the UK to become the first European country to launch spacecraft and satellites from home soil has been passed.

The government said that the new regulation could unlock £4 billion in market opportunities over the next decade and create thousands of jobs. It added that the law could lead to better monitoring of climate change, as well as improved data for satellite navigation systems.

The first satellite launch from a UK spaceport is expected to take place next year.

“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,” said transport secretary Grant Shapps. “These 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.”

Today’s announcement comes alongside the formal appointment of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as the industry regulator.

The government predicts that eventually new and emerging space activity will be launched, including sub-orbital space tourism and new transport systems such as hypersonic flights

“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,” said science minister Amanda Solloway. “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.”

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