New laws are set to get Royal Assent today (15 March 2018) which will unlock an exciting era of British space innovation, exploration and investment.
The Space Industry Bill will enable the first commercial space launch from UK soil in history, creating the potential for hundreds of highly-skilled jobs and bringing in billions of pounds for the economy.
The passing of the Bill, the most modern piece of space industry legislation anywhere in the world, means British businesses will soon be able to compete in the commercial space race using UK spaceports.
This will not only ensure Britain is capable of launching small satellites and scientific experiments from our own soil, but also able to take advantage of future developments like hypersonic flight and high-speed point to point transport.
The UK is already a global hub for satellite manufacturing, operation and application development. Access to space will allow companies to deploy satellites as well, 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 – helping to drive growth across the country and unlocking hundreds of highly-skilled jobs in our regions.
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 said:
The Space Industry Bill offers an exciting opportunity for the UK to soar to new heights and be at the forefront of the commercial space age. Through the government’s ambitious Industrial Strategy, we are working with the sector to pursue pioneering commercial space opportunities, including developing new technologies, infrastructure and services. This will open up the UK to new frontiers, transforming the way we live, and establishing us as a space flight leader.
With one in four of all telecoms satellites substantially built in Britain and our businesses at the forefront of hypersonic flight technology, through its Industrial Strategy, the government is working with the industry to increase its global share of the space sector from 6.5% to 10% by 2030.
And if the UK can build its own spaceports, we will also be able to tap into the rapidly expanding launch market – worth an estimated £10 billion over the next decade.
Satellite services already support more than £250 billion of GDP in the wider UK economy as well as products and services we all rely on.
Science Minister Sam Gyimah will also announce 8 new projects today as part of the UK Space Agency’s Space for Smarter Government Programme, which demonstrates the potential of using satellite technology to solve challenges faced by the public sector.
These 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.
The Space Industry Bill will also create new opportunities for the UK’s business and scientific community to carry out cutting-edge research and inspire the next generation of British scientists and engineers.
Work is already underway to ensure the next generation is involved – with over 1,000 apprenticeships in the space sector and government’s Year of Engineering campaign championing careers in STEM to the next generation of scientists and astronauts. And it is British scientists, engineers, programmers and entrepreneurs who are at the forefront of shaping this future.
Dr Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said:
The Space Industry Bill guarantees the sky is not the limit for future generations of engineers, entrepreneurs and scientists. We will set out how we plan to accelerate the development of the first commercial launch services from the UK, and realise the full potential of this enabling legislation over the coming months.
Currently UK firms rely on a limited supply of launches in other countries which leaves them vulnerable to launch delays. The Space Industry Bill will help to increase the supply of launch services closer to home, and capture a share of growing global launch demand.
Government will now work to create a regulatory structure that empowers innovation, embraces opportunity and ensures UK launch activity is carried out safely and responsibly in the UK.