UK Space Agency provides £10 million seed funding for new small launcher

by | Feb 9, 2017 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Grants worth GBP£10 million will be made available by the UK government via the UK Space Agency (UKSA) to help develop commercial launch capability for spaceflight. Science Minister Jo Johnson announced that along with the funding new legislation which will facilitate and regulate commercial spaceflight.

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.

It is known that some organisations have already begun research into a potential launch vehicle – using vertical or horizontal/air launch techniques. For example, Reaction Engines Limited made a study of a quick way to develop a partly reusable rocket called Blue Boomerang. However, it used Russian/Ukranian rocket engines and is thus likely to remain a paper design.

Blue Boomerang design study is likely to remain a paper project. Courtesy: Reaction Engines Limited

Blue Boomerang design study is likely to remain a paper project. Courtesy: Reaction Engines Limited

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said:

“Spaceflight offers the UK the opportunity to build on our strengths in science, research and innovation. 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 GBP£25 billion over the next 20 years. The call for proposals I announced today, together with a new, dedicated Spaceflight Bill, will help make our space ambitions a reality.”

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