The Department for Transport (DfT) announced a framework of rules to regulate the space industry and said it had “a potential of £ 4 billion in market opportunities over the next decade”.
The first launch of a spacecraft or satellite from British soil is expected to take place next year and will mark the very first launch from a European country, according to the DfT.
Currently, many European companies are launching from a site in French Guiana, South America.
Spaceport sites have been planned across the UK, including Scotland and Cornwall, in hopes of making the country the most attractive destination in Europe for commercial space flight activities.
It is hoped that the industry will launch satellites to improve satellite navigation systems and boost monitoring of weather and climate change.
Space tourism travel and hypersonic flights – which are faster than the speed of sound – will eventually be launched from the UK, DfT said
The government will also provide £ 31.5million to help set up vertical launch services from Scotland, including £ 5.5million to build a new rocket to be launched from Sutherland.
An additional £ 7.35million will go to Spaceport Cornwall to support a horizontal launch by Virgin Orbit, a Virgin Group company that provides small satellite launch services.
Business plans will also be created for suborbital flights from Machrihanish, Snowdonia and Cornwall airports.
A further £ 99million is to be invested in a new national satellite testing facility at Harwell and £ 60million will be spent on the development of a revolutionary air-breathing hybrid rocket engine.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘We are on the cusp of the new commercial space age, and it’s time for the UK’s thriving space industry to take off, demonstrating the government’s commitment to place Great Britain in the world forefront of this sector.
“These regulations will help create new jobs and bring economic benefits to communities and organizations across the UK, helping us take it to the next level as we inspire the next generation of space scientists and engineers. “
The Civil Aviation Authority has been appointed as the regulatory body for the UK space industry.