If you spoke to anybody 20 years ago, they never would have expected the UK rockets and space market to be thriving by now. Britain has certain advantages that make it a major player, plus the government is well and truly backing UK space startups and space innovations. Here in this article, we look at why Britain has a new shot at a future in space. Let’s find out more.
It’s coming to Britain
The UK space agency has been working on a spaceflight program called LaunchUK. They hope to establish fully commercial small satellite launches from British spaceports. In 10 years time, it is hoped that the U.K.’s global market share of the space sector will grow to be 10%. The government certainly has an ambitious vision for the UK to be at the forefront of the small satellite launch market. These efforts will lead to a series of commercial spaceflight activities, including suborbital launches within the next five years.
New technology and a new shot
By facilitating UK launches, the space industry will benefit as a whole. The government is working to develop a series of launch vehicles along with new satellite technology. It is also putting money into brand-new testing facilities that will pave Britain’s path towards a future in space. To complement its investment in new technology, the government is also inspiring a new generation of space scientists, entrepreneurs and engineers.
The government has recently given out a £99 million grant for developing cutting edge testing facilities in Harwell that will put Britain on the map and accelerate the space race. It has also recently invested £60 million in developing new hybrid technology such as air-breathing rocket engines. It’s all exciting stuff for the UK!
Access to markets
In the hope of boosting its own market, the UK will need to collaborate on a global scale. Fortunately, Britain has strong relationships with international organisations, giving immediate access to the global market. Britain can tap into various supply chains from all over the world. Tech companies and UK satellite Manufacturers can bring added value to the UK economy in general by creating thousands of highly skilled jobs. At this moment in time, Britain’s space sector already employs over 42,000 people, bringing in approximately £14 billion a year.
Britain is investing in a series of spaceports, spanning areas of the country such as Scotland, the Western Isles, Snowdonia and Wales. The government is working closely with the UK Space Agency, Department for Business, Civil Aviation Authority and other bodies to develop a Spaceflight Programme. New regulatory frameworks are being put into place to ensure the uppermost standards and safe operations within the UK. It is hoped that new spaceports will stimulate the economy and provide companies with ample opportunities to launch UK rockets into space, along with small satellite launches being the main focus.
Increasing the market
As it stands, Britain’s government has invested over £40 million to grow spaceflight capabilities. It has no plans to stop investing either, measures in place to provide funding for new in-demand Polar Satellite missions. The U.K.’s geography makes it unique to host several types of spaceflight activity, including both vertical and horizontal launches. Because of the economic prosperity to be gained from launching small satellites into the lower earth orbit, further investment will continue for many years to come.
UK rockets to infinity and beyond
Currently, one can only apply for satellite operation licences under the antiquated 1986 Outer Space Act. The UK is hoping to speed things up. Once the Space Industry Act and legislation are approved and ready, many companies will be able to apply for a licence to launch directly from British soil. It is clear that Britain is committed to space exploration, recognising the commercial possibilities. Sooner or later, will see many rockets and satellites being launched from the British ground up into the great unknown.
Where do you see the British space programme to be in five years time? Will we have our first commercial launch from British soil? They’d love to hear your thoughts. Share them in the comments section below.