UK Spaceport: What next after Brexit?

16th Sep 2020

The UK spaceport projects are a promising initiative from the British government and the UK Space Agency since they will offer a chance to expand the country’s influence on the international launch market. Scotland should soon become home to several launch sites, which means that UK will no longer rely on launch sites elsewhere. 

Is the UK spaceport initiative viable?

Brexit has posed a number of challenges to the UK’s progress in the space industry. The country will no longer take part in the EU’s Galileo program and will be forced to develop their own satellite guidance systems. With greater funding from the private sector, UK spaceport projects should strengthen this country’s influence in the international space industry.

The acquisition of a major share in OneWeb was the country’s initial move to secure its own navigation constellation, although it has since been revealed that the OneWeb satellites were primarily used for high speed internet and lacked the technology required for satellite navigation.

Despite Brexit setbacks, Great Britain’s private space industry is thriving, with a renewed focus on facilities in Cornwall and in parts of Scotland. This country has not reached a level where they can transport astronauts to the International Space Station or launch their own satellites from home soil. However, these UK-based spaceports are crucial in developing launch services necessary to achieve those goals. Although there are no immediate plans to launch people into Space from any of the UK Spaceports.

Spaceport Scotland project will deal with traditional vertical launches. Another promising UK spaceport will be built in Cornwall. Virgin Orbit, which will focus on horizontal launches, will become the resident launch company at Cornwall. 

In a couple of years, there is hope that the UK spaceport facilities will increase their launch capacities and potentially even send their home-grown astronauts, along with their home-made satellites, into space.

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