New environmental regulation brings first British space launch one step closer

The UK Government has published its environmental guidance for the spaceflight regulator, which brings us one step closer to the first-ever British space launch.

A newly established consultation will set out how the regulator, which will oversee all space activity from the UK, should meet environmental objectives – ensuring that the first-ever British space launch fits into the UK’s environmental goals.

The government is committed to growing the space sector in the UK and cementing its leading role in this sector by facilitating commercial spaceflight across the UK. In collaboration with industry leaders, the government has set a target to grow the UK’s share of the global market to 10% by 2030. The UK space sector directly employs 41,900 people and contributes £5.7bn to UK gross domestic product (GDP). However, according to a written statement from the UK Department of Transport and Rachel Maclean MP, the space sector will need another 30,000 people to achieve its ambitious market share goals.

This new environmental consultation, which will last for six weeks, forms part of the Space Industry Act 2018 and will pave the way for a range of commercial spaceflight and scientific endeavours to operate within the UK in the future. The Space Industry Act requires applicants for a spaceport or launch operator licence to submit an assessment of environmental effects as part of their application – this will form part of any decision making when it comes to licence applications and conditions.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “Soon we will be launching small satellites into orbit from British soil, creating new jobs and economic opportunities for communities across the UK. Like all businesses large and small, our space industry has a responsibility to make sure they play their part in tackling climate change as we get closer to making our spaceflight dreams a reality.”

The government want to capitalise on the opportunities offered by commercial spaceflight, which will feed into its national space strategy and the government’s agenda to build back better, all while improving our understanding of climate change and our world-leading efforts to tackle it.

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