The Space Industry Bill quietly gained Royal Assent last week, bringing a whole host of new measures to bootstrap the UK’s growing private space industry.
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The bill covers everything from insurance requirements and safety commitments to spaceflight licensing.
While it hasn’t grabbed headlines the new legislation is a giant leap for the UK space sector. Laying the legal groundwork that is required for the UK to create its own spaceports.
The bill also finances a series of other measures that should launch the UK space-sector to the new level. These include £10 million to construct spaceports and supporting projects; as well as plans to create a commercial astronaut training ground.
Currently, Europe’s only spaceport is run by the European Space Agency’s (ESA). It is located in French Guiana in South America. Geographically this isn’t very European.
A new spaceport would probably to be built to allow horizontal launches. This is where a rocket is transported by plane before launching (rather than a traditional vertical launch).
No location has currently been decided yet. However, in 2014 eight locations were identified by the government; Newquay Airport in England, Llanbedr Airport in Wales and Scottish airfields RAF Leuchars, Campbeltown Airport, Glasgow Prestwick Airport, Kinloss Barracks, Stornoway Airport and RAF Lossiemouth.
The UK Space Sector
The UK is already a major player in the global space sector. Around 25% of all telecommunication satellites are built by UK companies
The satellite sector is booming thanks to the dramatic cost of the technology over the last decade. On average a satellite would have cost more than $100 million a decade or two ago; that figure has crashed to nearly $1 million in recent years.
The comparatively low cost of modern satellites is opening new opportunities for a whole range of investors. This latest bill aims to build on the UK technological expertise and the boom in the space industry by making the UK a one-stop-shop for all things space.
Space Camp Accelerator
One of those new investors in the UK space industry is Seraphim Capital.
Seraphim is launching a new “Space Camp Accelerator”; a dedicated programme for startups in the industry.
The camps will aim to help new companies scale up, gain funding and network. The scheme is being backed by both the ESA and the UK Space Agency.
Space is a $350 billion industry that underpins many elements of our everyday lives. $2.5 billion was invested in spacetech startups by VCs globally in 2017, but those startups still need greater access to industry-specific advice and support. We’re turning the accelerator concept on its head: investability is a prerequisite for the startups we invite to be part of Space Camp Accelerator, not the endgame of their involvement as it might be for other programmes Mark Boggett, CEO at Seraphim Capital
Initially, the scheme will champion six startups that are satellite-led companies or focused on addressing problems in the space industry.
The programme will then be run twice a year. The first camp will kick off in May this year; and the second in September.
The scheme is yet another reason to be excited about the state of the UK’s space industry.