Access to space opens up in the United Kingdom

New legislation introduced in the UK Parliament will allow commercial spaceports in Cornwall, Wales and Scotland to begin operations as early as 2022.
New legislation introduced on May 24 will allow UK-based launch facilities to begin operations as early as 2022 | Image credit: Skyrora

The UK government has introduced regulations to allow several proposed spaceports to apply for licenses to operate.

The new regulations laid out in Parliament on May 24 were developed by the Civil Aviation Authority in conjunction with the UK Space Agency. The legislation will come into force this summer and is expected to foster the development of commercial spaceflight technologies.

“Continuing to grow our launch capability will help bring jobs and economic benefits across the UK,” said science minister Amanda Solloway. The Space Industry Regulations we’ve tabled today will create a supportive, attractive and safe environment for commercial spaceflight.”

With the introduction of the new legislation, proposed launch facilities in Cornwall, Wales, and Scotland will be able to apply to begin commercial operations as soon as 2022.

Virgin Galactic is currently examining the possibility of launching flights of its SpaceShipTwo spaceplanes from Spaceport Cornwall.

In addition to established launch providers, homegrown launch startups Orbex and Skyrora will likely make use of the proposed sites to launch their respective smallsat rockets.

The pair received €10.45 million in ESA funding earlier this year as part of the agency Boost! initiative which aims to foster the development of new commercial launch services. The pair’s Prime and Skyrora XL launch vehicles are expected to complete their respective maiden flights in 2022.

Although both commercial operators are likely to utilize at least one of the proposed UK-based launch sites, neither startup has yet committed to one.

Andrew Parsonson is a space enthusiast and the founder of Rocket Rundown. He has worked as a journalist and blogger for various industries for over 5 years and has a passion for both fictional and real-life space travel. Currently, Andrew is the primary writer for Rocket Rundown as we look to expand our reach and credibility.