There’s no denying that private space flight companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic see huge potential on the possibility of so-called “space tourism”, but they’re not the only space flight companies interested in the space. Major national agencies like NASA are also keenly interested, but there’s a number of issues that have yet to be resolved. Key among those? Where these commercial and passenger rockets would fly from.
In an announcement last month, the government announced that they wished the UK to become a world leader in space travel by 2020, beating out the likes of the United States and other world superpowers in the process. The plan centres around building spaceports which would allow consumers to fly out in to space, and was launched (if you’ll forgive the pun), by Jo Johnson, Boris’ brother and current science minister.
He said: “We will cement the UK’s position as a world leader in this emerging market”, adding “Space flight offers the UK the opportunity to build on our strengths in science, research and innovation. The Spaceflight Bill was later unveiled in parliament. Some of the port locations being considered are Newquay Airport in Cornwall, Llanbeddr airport in Snowdonia and Prestwick airport, near Glasgow, though no locations have been officially chosen.
As a leading UK supplier of Aerospace testing parts, we’re delighted by the government’s announcement that it wishes to push the accelerator on spaceflight innovation in the UK. Each and every day we work with engineers to solve complex problems with custom fittings, and we know that investment in this area could yield a huge bonus for the UK’s manufacturing and technology sectors.
“It provides opportunities to expand into new markets, creating highly-skilled jobs and boosting local economies across the country. That is why it is one of the key pillars of our Industrial Strategy.
“We want to see the UK space sector flourish, that is why we are laying the groundwork needed for business to be able to access this lucrative global market worth an estimated £25 billion over the next 20 years”, Mr Johnson added.
The draft bill revealed in parliament also grants researchers the permission to perform experiments in zero gravity to help battle bugs like MRSA and Salmonella. Indeed, it’s thought that only 10% of the money generated from these commercial space flights, with the rest coming from missile launches, science expeditions, refuelling missions and more.
One potential roadblock in the way of these spaceports would be the planning permissions required to create them. The United States is blessed with a huge landmass, with thousands of square miles of uninhabited land. The UK, on the other hand, does not. With the noise and pollution created from spaceflight, all locations would have to be far away from populated areas, potentially causing an issue in protected areas.
Nevertheless, with such strong government support, the UK’s aerospace industry looks set for a real boost over the next decade.