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Regulatory framework to enable commercial spaceflight in the UK

 20 May 2016  |  

Artist's impression of Prestwick Spaceport

Artist's impression of Prestwick Spaceport

Glasgow Prestwick Spaceport was delighted to receive notification from the Department for Transport this morning (Friday 20 May) advising that there will be a regulatory framework created for UK Spaceports. 

This announcement follows a long campaign by the team from Glasgow Prestwick Airport to switch the process for the selection of potential spaceport sites from a bid to a licensing regime. The airport team argued that a licensing regime would be market driven, open to all, and would accelerate the process for making a commercial spaceport a reality. A positive move for industry and the UK economy as a whole.

Following on from this announcement, Mike Stewart, Glasgow Prestwick Airport Business Development Director, said:

"The decision to move to a licensing process is a progressive step by the UK Government. It demonstrates that they have listened to industry and want to be an enabler for the UK space sector.

"Glasgow Prestwick was a front runner in the bid process and we believe that we now stand the best chance of being the first UK operational spaceport as we already have much of the infrastructure needed in place and we would require a relatively small amount of investment to establish a space launch capability here.

"We have always understood that if we were truly going to make a Glasgow Prestwick Spaceport a reality, it was essential that we actively engaged with strategic industry leaders. Whilst the bid process was ongoing we were working hard on that and we have already secured a number of formal agreements with key UK and International partners. We will now be moving at a pace to build on this existing framework, establishing long term partnerships with global suppliers and potential customers.

"Another important factor for us as a business is to identify exactly what our commercial spaceport model will look like. We are already quite well advanced in developing our thinking on this and we will be working with our partners to ensure that we deliver something that isn't only ground breaking for the UK and Europe but that will also be profitable and sustainable for the long term for the benefit of Glasgow Prestwick Airport and the communities we serve."

On announcement of this update, the Transport Minister the Right Honourable Patrick McLoughlin MP said that the government intends to legislate to encourage British entrepreneurs to make the most of the commercial opportunities of space.

This step is part of the UK Government's wider ambitions to support an already fast growing UK space sector. The Government hopes to raise revenues from the space sector from almost £12 billion to £40 billion by 2030. That would account for around 10% of the global space economy.

Eileen Howat, Chief Executive of South Ayrshire Council and member of the Prestwick Aerospace Stakeholder Group, said: " A licensing framework is exactly the outcome the partners within Prestwick Aerospace have been looking to achieve and gives Glasgow Prestwick Airport and its partners the mandate to steam ahead with plans to make Prestwick Spaceport a reality sooner rather than later.

"Prestwick's well-established relationships with industry and the drive and motivation that exist across the partnership mean we are already well out of the starter blocks. We can now direct our focus and attention on delivering a successful and viable business model that gets us across the finishing line and establishes a world-class spaceport on our doorstep."

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