Spaceflights could be launched from British soil in just three years under government plans announced today (9 Feb).
Science minister Jo Johnson has unveiled a series of grants worth £10m aimed at consortia capable of launching missions from 2020.
The funding will be complimented by a dedicated Spaceflight Bill to put in place the regulation and licenses needed to get British spaceflights off the ground.
Johnson, MP for Orpington, said the plans would pave the way for British firms to capture a greater share of a market worth £25bn over 20 years.
“The call for proposals I announced today, together with a new, dedicated Spaceflight Bill, will help make our space ambitions a reality,” Johnson said.
It’s expected satellite launches will be among the first missions, with space tourism journeys set to follow.
A number of possible spaceport sites have already been identified, including Newquay airport in Cornwall, Llanbedr airport in Snowdonia and Prestwick airport near Glasgow and Campbelton airport in Scotland, among others.
The groups bidding for funding are likely to be joint enterprises with expertise in vehicle operation and site development, the government’s statement said.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on developments.