UK Spaceports May Soon Get a New Space Act to Boost Launch Capability

29th May 2021
cornwall spaceport 2 1

As Boris Johnson announces plans for creating the Advanced Research and Inventions Agency (ARIA), Chair of the Parliamentary Space Committee, David Morris, suggests a course for the future of the UK spaceports and their development. Morris believes that as the Prime Minister follows the course set by the Queen in her New Year’s speech – that of recovering science and healthcare after the pandemic – the UK also needs someone to tackle the space industry.

Current Shortcomings in UK Spaceports Legislation

Morris stresses that the space industry is becoming ever more profitable, and SpaceX’s activities are the most obvious example. The UK has the potential to monetise the space industry and upcoming UK spaceports. However, necessary regulations will have to be put in place first.

The biggest drawback with today’s spaceport operation is that the UK still relies on the Outer Space Act introduced in 1986. A lot has changed since then, and the country needs new regulations to attract launch providers to the upcoming UK spaceports. In particular, it is necessary to limit operator liability and introduce modelled insurance schemes.

This way, launches from UK spaceports should not be too risky for the providers if something goes wrong with the satellite. This, in turn, will make some operators reconsider French Guiana and other launchpads and turn their eye to the UK.

Government’s Assessment of the UK Space Industry’s Potential

The government welcomes the creation of a new Space Act because today’s space industry promises impressive profits. Even now, the industry contributes £14.8 billion a year to the UK budget. By 2030, this figure is expected to reach £400 billion.

To make use of this lucrative opportunity, some legal adjustments are an absolute must. Creating a new legal framework for rocket launches from the UK spaceports will bring billions of pounds to the state budget and will make the UK a leader in the international launch market.

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