Britain’s ambitions to journey into space took a leap forward Thursday when the government announced a scheme to see rockets taking off by 2020.
As well as a 12.5 million U.S.dollar-scheme to incentivise the commercial spaceflight market, the government announced that within weeks, a draft legislation will be put before parliament to enable spaceflights from Britain.
Grants are to be made available to help develop commercial launch capabilities for spaceflights.
The funding program comes as the government set a timeline for new legislation which will facilitate and regulate commercial spaceflight.
The Department for Business, Engergy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said the government’s ambitions is for Britain to hold a greater share of the commercial spaceflight market, worth an estimated 25 billion pounds (32 billion U.S.dollars) over the next 20 years.
It has issued a call for businesses to develop competitive, commercial and safe spaceflight proposals for Britain-based satellite launch services and sub-orbital flights.
Science Minister Jo Johnson said: “Spaceflight offers Britain the opportunity to build on our strengths in science, research and innovation. It provides opportunities to expand into new markets, creating highly-skilled jobs and boosting local economies across the country.”
“We want to see the UK space sector flourish, that is why we are laying the groundwork needed for business to be able to access this lucrative global market. The call for proposals I announced today, together with a new, dedicated Spaceflight Bill, will help make our space ambitions a reality.
Organisations expected to bid for a share of the funding are likely to be joint enterprises of launch vehicle operators and potential launch sites.
BEIS say the funding must be used to develop spaceflight capabilities, such as building spaceport infrastructure or adapting launch vehicle technology for use in Britain. The aim is to establish a commercial spaceflight market to capture a share of the emerging global market from 2020.
A BEIS spokesman added: “There will be further discussions with industry on the future of the UK’s commercial spaceflight market at the Royal Aeronautical Society on February 21, hosted by the UK Space Agency.”
“The initial call is focused on establishing the commercial spaceflight market in the UK by potentially providing grant funding to the most feasible proposals, and is not a prize. The UK Space Agency will continue to offer support and advice to all potential UK spaceports and operators, regardless of the outcome.” Enditem