• the moment of take-off for space flights of Great Britain and the USA, when the Minister of Transport makes a landmark declaration in Washington
  • partnership to cut red tape, making commercial launches from both countries easier and more efficient
  • is happening as the UK prepares for the first launch of a satellite from home soil this year, creating thousands of highly skilled jobs

Future space flights will become easier and cheaper following a landmark partnership with the United States to help cut red tape and increase opportunities in the UK, signed by the Transport Minister this week in Washington.

On May 11, 2022, Secretary of Transportation Grant Shaps and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Butidzic signed a declaration of joint work on future commercial space flights at the iconic Smithsonian Institution.

The partnership will help launch cheaper, faster and more tuned space flights through close cooperation between the two countries on licensing commercial space launches.

The move will reduce red tape and regulatory burdens for operators, leading to efficiencies and reduced costs, resources and duplication while maintaining strict safety standards.

The new declaration sends a clear signal to countries around the world that the UK is aiming to become a European center of space activities and lays the groundwork for rockets, high-altitude balloons and spacecraft to take off quickly from UK spaceports.

This is happening at a time when the UK is preparing for the first-ever launch from home, and Europe – later this year Cornwall Spaceport.

Transport Minister Grant Shaps said:

This transformational partnership is a giant leap for both countries as we prepare for a new exciting era of space flight.

Of the 7 spaceports being developed across the UK, the space industry is already injecting billions into our economy, offering highly skilled jobs.

As we look beyond the UK’s first scheduled space flight later this year, I look forward to the fact that innovation and opportunities have increased dramatically thanks to this collaboration.

Offering startup opportunities will provide companies from the UK as well as companies from around the world with direct access to the space environment, while creating highly skilled jobs across the country and aligning some of the most remote communities.

This will reduce the UK’s dependence on other launchers to launch UK-built and operated satellites that benefit everyone, from critical defense security and better weather to our television services and more efficient transport.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigig said:

Commercial space travel is growing rapidly, and it is our responsibility to ensure that these innovations develop safely, encouraging them to evolve in a way that we all benefit.

We are proud to begin this partnership with the United Kingdom to bring more benefits to commercial space travel to our employees, businesses and communities.

The move will not only help make the process of recruiting US space operators here in the UK easier and more efficient, but will also simplify the steps for UK space organizations wishing to work in the US.

This will greatly expand opportunities for companies from the UK and US to work from relevant spaceports, providing each country with new customers and revenue.

Dan Hart, CEO from Virgin Orbit said:

This agreement between the US and the UK will accelerate cooperation in all areas of space flight. As the Virgin Orbit team prepares to launch into space from Cornwall, rule compatibility could be a key factor.

We are grateful to Secretary of State Grant Shaps and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Butygig for their vision and leadership, and we are committed to contributing to the first-ever launch from the UK later this year with a great mix of payloads from our 2 countries.

As the UK space industry continues to thrive, this sector is putting billions into the UK economy. In 2020, British space-related organizations received £ 16.5 billion in revenue, supporting around 47,000 jobs.

We expect this to grow even further as implemented by the government National Space Strategy and the first satellites launched from the UK later this year.

Joan Wheeler MBEThe co-chair of the UKspace Launch Industry Group (LIG) said:

UKspace welcomes this landmark agreement between the UK and the US, which works to reduce duplication between the two countries to license commercial space activities, reduce costs and streamline procedures while maintaining robust safety standards.

The partnership reflects the cooperation of both countries in commercial space flights as the UK prepares for its first launch from British soil later this year from the Cornwall spaceport. It will also support the UK space and launch industry as a whole as it continues to thrive.


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