The UK Space Agency are investing £1.15 million to fund preparatory research about sub-orbital spaceflight and small satellite launches from the UK.
In 2015, the National Space Policy set out the government’s ambition to establish a spaceport in the UK. In February 2016, proposals were invited for industrial research projects to investigate the challenges associated with the introduction and operation of commercial viable services in the UK, and to identify the underpinning technological developments required to support these activities.
Topics being studied in the five projects include:
- understanding and building the regulatory environment for safe, commercial operations
- creating the operational model for a commercially viable UK spaceports
- quantifying the market needs for small satellite launches from the UK
- analysing the potential to grow a high value, UK supply chain around launch and sub-orbital spaceflight systems and engaging with these suppliers
- building the technology and business roadmaps in support of launch and sub-orbital spaceflight systems
- developing a detailed understanding of how overseas launch and spaceflight systems can be adapted for operation in the UK and the impact on all of the above
The five projects propose to cover different aspects of these subjects and between them will consider a number of different technical, industrial and market scenarios. The project teams, which will bring matched funding from industry bidders, are:
- Airbus Safran Launchers SAS
- Deimos Space UK Ltd
- Lockheed Martin UK – Strategic Systems Ltd
- Orbital Access Ltd
- Virgin Galactic LLC
Katherine Courtney, Interim Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency said:
“The government’s aim, as set out in the National Space Policy, is to support industry to open new markets by establishing a spaceport in the UK and to enable the UK space sector, valued at £11.8 billion in 2014, to grow to £40 billion by 2030.
Low cost access to space is key to unlocking growth. We look forward to the technology and market insights these projects will deliver later this year – helping us get the policy right in this area.”