Step forward for spaceport


The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has welcomed today’s Royal Assent of the Space Industry Bill, which paves the way for safe legal commercial spaceflight from UK soil.

Royal Assent marks the Bill’s passage into law and is said to be vital if the UK is to hit its target of spaceflight from the UK by 2020.

It establishes a new high level regulatory framework for UK-based spaceflight activities, including the operation of UK-based spaceports and the launch of new craft, including spaceplanes. The next stage will be detailed second stage law that will provide critical detail on the process of licencing, operations and regulation.

The Space Industry Bill has made rapid progress through Parliament and underlines the Government’s determination to deliver launch services and capture an important global market opportunity by showing international investors that it means business. The global space economy will be worth an estimated £400 billion a year by 2030, and the UK has a target of capturing 10%.

The wide-ranging laws cover all spaceflight activities, from spaceport operations, safety, insurance and liability issues, to the fitness of people taking part in space activities and even a new criminal offence of highjacking a spacecraft.

The Bill also outlines the work spaceports will be required to undertake before they go operational, to include requirements for environmental impact assessments.

The LEP is currently awaiting the outcome of a funding bid to the UK Space Agency to establish a spaceport at Cornwall Airport Newquay.

LEP board member and chair of Cornwall’s Aerohub Enterprise Zone, Gavin Poole, said: “This is a great step forward for the UK’s ambitions to capture £40 billion of the global space economy by 2030, and creates the necessary framework for Spaceport Cornwall to operate.

“It also underpins the LEP’s recently launched Space Action Plan, which is targeting 10,000 jobs and a £1 billion space economy for Cornwall.”

Spaceport Cornwall director, Miles Carden, added: “Operators, investors and funders across the globe have been watching the Bill’s progress with interest, so this is a key milestone. The appetite of the space industry to engage with us and invest is strong, and the legislation being in place is an important part of our proposition to international investors.”