The UK government is issuing licences for rocket launches from its official spaceports. The May 24th announcement talked of space tourism also being included and for the sites to be ready for operation from summer 2022.
“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,” said the UK’s Department for Transport, the Civil Aviation Authority and UK Space Agency in a joint statement.
“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,” added the statement.
The UK’s Secretary of State for Transport, 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 four corners of our nation.”
The new licensing regime will come into effect 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,” concluded the statement.