UK commits £10 million to space development


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The competition heats up: The United Kingdom’s space agency yesterday announced that it is making available £10 million in grants for projects that develop and improve the country’s launch capabilities.

Organisations expected to bid for a share of the funding are likely to be joint enterprises of launch vehicle operators and potential launch sites. The funding must be used to develop spaceflight capabilities, such as building spaceport infrastructure or adapting launch vehicle technology for use in the UK. The aim is to establish a commercial spaceflight market to capture a share of the emerging global market from 2020.

The government also announced today that it is preparing legislation to develop a safe and competitive regulatory environment for spaceflight. This work goes hand-in-hand with government’s work internationally to achieve the technical, trade and policy agreements necessary for UK based launch services and developing interest from launch customers and operators from around the world.

It is interesting to me that the UK’s effort to prepare a better regulatory environment for private space is happening parallel to the similar recently-announced regulartory efforts in Luxembourg, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates, just to name a few. It seems that the nations that wish to compete in the new colonial movement in space are all discovering that the Outer Space Treaty is a problem, and they are all searching for ways to legally bypass it, without abandoning it.

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5 comments

  • ken anthony

    The OST is a disaster, but forgive me for being dense, what would be the evidence for governments trying to bypass it?

  • “. . . all discovering that the Outer Space Treaty is a problem, and they are all searching for ways to legally bypass it, without abandoning it.”

    The OST was designed to prevent the very things private space does: open up the solar system to private enterprise. Why *not* just abandon it? We did with the ABM and the sky didn’t fall.

    About the UK: it has always been a mystery to me why the society that invented the Industrial Revolution and essentially conquered the planet has been conspicuously absent from space. My speculation is that the socialization of British society in the 1950’s deprived the government of the money to pay for space, and drained the will of the people to do it.

  • wayne

    Blair– you raise an interesting question about the British. Highly recommend a Gresham College lecture series entitled:

    “Britain in the Twentieth Century: Progress and Decline”
    This one in particular might be of interest– the 3rd of 6 lectures total, covering the twentieth century exclusively.
    “The Attempt to Construct a
    Socialist Common Wealth, 1945 – 1951”
    https://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/britain-in-the-20th-century-the-attempt-to-construct-a-socialist-commonwealth

    (There’s also the “Poor Act of 1834,” but English History is not my strong suite.

  • Edward

    Blair Ivey,
    I think your analysis of the UK’s inability to develop a healthy space program is correct. As we have seen in the past, governments operate space more as socialistic societies would, as top down programs, directed from the centralized government.

    As we have seen in the past couple of decades, it is the free market capitalist form of space operations that has seen the most innovation and efficient use of resources. We saw the development of two orbital rockets and two spacecraft under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program at a cost less than the typical development costs of a single governmental orbital rocket.

    Free market capitalism has been shown to work better that socialism in all the places that they have been tried. Now we can see that free market capitalism works better for developmental and operational programs as well.

  • LocalFluff

    The president should simply declare that space is now US territory and that executive US law applies. “A great safe space!” The constructively business minded people in the UAE, Letzebuerg, Japan wherever would appreciate to have a clear and sound law. They don’t fight to have their law as opposed to US law, they fight to get any coherent and useful law at all. It is since centuries already the norm to write contracts about shipping and such that specify that US (or English) law and courts are to be applied.

    The concept of sitting down and compromising with evil communists, mad islamists, corrupt dictators and the brain dead European politicians in order to formulate space law is sooo stupid. The president should simply have a commission of experts and businessmen write down a space law.

    As for the English, they were always better on things like law making and commerce and naval warfare than on engineering. They looked good for a while simply because they were first, but the Germans and the Japanese easily overtook them by doing things properly. The soft stuff the English have been good at allows for some compromising, there’s never a single exact right answer, but in engineering on the other hand a touch of collective autism is helpful.

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