Three years ago the government (or former government, as it may be) backed plans to build a spaceport right here in the UK. Today, after a long bloody time of waiting, those plans took one big step closer to being a reality.
The Space Industry Bill was designed to allow space launches from right here in the UK, meaning we can blast things like satellites into space without the cost and hassle of shipping stuff abroad to foreign spaceports. Today, after going through the processes of parliament, the bill received Royal Assent - which means its now law. While it's not clear when it'll actually take effect, it means all we really need to do is build the spaceport and put it to good use.
The idea is to increase the UK's share of the global space business from 6.5 per cent to 10 per cent by 2030, with the government predicting an increased focus on space-based industry will produce hundreds of new jobs alongside generating billions of pounds for the economy and advancing scientific research. The spaceport will also have some of the resources necessary for space tourism, though the government currently has no plans to craft the regulations necessary to blast passengers into space.
In the past sites in the running for the spaceport included Glasgow's Prestwick Airport, Campbeltown, Stornoway, Newquay, and Llanbedr. Though they were shortlisted three years ago and things might have changed without the government telling us. Sky News points out, however, that Glasgow has played a pretty important role in the satellite industry, having produced 70 satellites in the past three years. That the most spacecraft produced anywhere outside California.
Transport Minister Jo Johnson said:
"The Space Industry Bill gives companies the ability to launch satellites from UK soil, putting us at the forefront of the new space race, and helping us to compete as the destination of choice for satellite companies worldwide."
Now that the legislation is in place, we can expect to hear a lot more about this in the coming years. [Sky News]