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Rockets could fly from UK by 2022 after spaceflight legislation passed

Professional Engineering

How a launch by UK rocket firm Skyrora could look (Credit: Skyrora)
How a launch by UK rocket firm Skyrora could look (Credit: Skyrora)

Spacecraft and satellites could launch from UK soil next year after spaceflight regulations were passed today (29 July).

The legislation provides the framework to regulate the UK space industry and enable launches to take place from British soil for the first time.

It could unlock £4bn of market opportunities over the next decade, the government said, creating thousands of jobs and benefiting communities around the country.

Science minister Amanda Solloway said: “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.”

The UK has a thriving space sector, with a longstanding specialism in satellites and a new generation of innovative rocket companies, as well as firms targeting other aspects of space missions. Scottish rocket company Orbex aims to launch satellites from the new Sutherland spaceport in the Highlands, using its Prime ‘micro-launcher’. Skyrora, another Scottish rocket company, also aims to launch from British soil.

In the long-term, the government hopes the new legislation will enable new space activity, such as sub-orbital space tourism and hypersonic flight.

Kevin Craven, chief executive of trade organisation ADS, said: “The applications of space technology are rapidly evolving, and the UK’s dynamic space sector is set to continue growing its £16bn contribution to our economy.

“Putting in place this regulatory framework is another important step towards making commercial space launches from UK spaceports a reality, which will offer major opportunities throughout our space industry and its supply chain.”

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

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “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.

“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.”


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Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

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