Potential spaceports can now apply for a share of £2m to support plans for small satellite launch from aircraft and sub-orbital flight from the UK.
Government officials said the UK Space Agency strategic development fund will help sites such as Newquay in Cornwall, Campbeltown and Glasgow Prestwick in Scotland, and Snowdonia in Wales. accelerate their plans.
The potential spaceports can now submit applications for grants of up to £500,000 to enable research into the market opportunities offered by new and emerging horizontal spaceflight technologies.
Successful bidders can use this research to develop an individual business case for offering horizontal launch services from the UK in the early 2020s, ‘better positioning themselves to engage with potential suppliers and investors,’ officials said.
Aviation minister Baroness Vere said: ‘The UK’s spaceflight expertise means we are ready to thrive in the new space age, encouraging innovation and creating jobs.
‘This fund provides a chance for UK spaceports to take the initiative and become global leaders in this field.’
Officials said the UK Space Agency is ‘driving the growth of the space sector as part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy and continues to be a leading member of European Space Agency, which is independent of the EU’.
As part of the Government’s spaceflight programme, which is worth £50m overall, in July 2018 ministers announced support for the establishment of a vertical spaceport in Scotland.