Britain could offer commercial space travel in just three years
A newly passed Spaceflight Bill will allow spaceports to be built across the UK, some of which could allow commercial flights.
The space travel industry is set to be worth £25billion in the next 20 years, and the UK is hoping to get its slice of the pie.
The Department for Transport said: “Next steps involve government encouraging business and industry to come forward with specific proposals for space launches.
“In addition, the government is inviting commercial space businesses to bid for funding to help create a space launch market in the UK.
Virgin could be one of the first to offer commercial space travel
“Together the new powers and funding will potentially allow a commercial spaceflight from a UK spaceport by 2020.”
Science minister Jo Johnson said the Bill would “cement the UK’s position as a world leader in this emerging market, giving us an opportunity to build on existing strengths in research and innovation”.
She added: “From the launch of Rosetta, the first spacecraft to orbit a comet, to Tim Peake’s six months on the International Space Station, the UK’s space sector has achieved phenomenal things in orbit and beyond.”
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Katherine Courtney, CEO of the UK Space Agency, said: “With our partners across government we continue to create a supportive environment for commercial innovation and cutting-edge science.
“Together, we are working to embrace the emerging small satellite launch market to capture a share of the £25 billion global opportunity.
Commercial space travel is on its way
“I’m confident that 2020 will see the first launches from British soil, and we’re working hard to make that a reality.”
Glasgow has already become a frontrunner in the bid to build the first spaceport and hopes to get a spaceport up and running by 2020.
Richard Jenner, Spaceport director for Glasgow Prestwick Airport, said: “We believe that dedicated legislation will help to move this forward at pace.
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“Glasgow Prestwick Airport fulfils much of the essential criteria for a spaceport such as infrastructure, favourable weather conditions and relatively clear airspace.
“And, as such, we believe that our airport is able to move at pace with the legislative process, and we are equipped to become the UK and Europe’s first space launch site with minimal investment.
“We are confident we can help the government to meet its commitment to have space launch in the UK by 2020.”