New legislation that will enable the first commercial space launch from UK soil in history was granted Royal Assent on Thursday (15 March).
The Government said that what is currently the Space Industry Bill will unlock an exciting era of British space innovation, exploration and investment, creating the potential for hundreds of highly-skilled jobs and bringing in billions of pounds for the economy.
A number of sites are competing to be the UK's first (actual) spaceport
Department for Transport officials said it means British businesses will soon be able to compete in the commercial space race using UK spaceports, ensuring that Britain is capable of launching small satellites and scientific experiments from its own soil and able to take advantage of future developments like hypersonic flight and high-speed point-to-point transport.
With the UK already a global hub for satellite manufacturing, operation and application development, access to space will allow companies to deploy satellites directly, ‘making the UK a one-stop shop for satellites services and the best place in Europe to start and grow a space business’.
Transport minister Jo Johnson said: ‘Access to space is the final piece of the puzzle for the UK space sector and forms part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy.
‘The Space Industry Bill gives companies the ability to launch satellites from UK soil, putting us at the forefront of the new space race, and helping us to compete as the destination of choice for satellite companies worldwide.’
Science minister Sam Gyimah is also set to announce eight new projects as part of the UK Space Agency’s Space for Smarter Government programme, which aims to demonstrate the potential of using satellite technology to solve challenges faced by the public sector.
The projects range from using satellite data and machine learning technology to support the roll-out of charging points for electric vehicles, to deploying drones and satellites in the battle against marine waste.