Spaceports in the UK will soon become a reality, with small satellites going into orbit from UK launch sites. This will present really exciting opportunities for the UK to thrive in the new space-age.
New technology for spaceports could lead to even more ‘spin-off’ technology like the unexpected developments we mentioned on the previous page. Possible spin-outs include new rocket or aircraft propulsion systems, fuel types, materials for building launch vehicles and systems for monitoring and recording launches and missions. Spin-outs are hard to predict, so there may be something completely new that nobody expected.
What about space tourism?
Although UK vertical launch sites will not be set up for launching people, some methods for horizontal launch are similar to plans for future human space travel. Horizontal launch company Virgin Orbit is a sister company to Virgin Galactic, a space tourism company that will launch from the USA. So, will they also launch people from the UK? Whilst, there are no plans for this to happen at present, the Space Industry Act 2018, the legal basis for spaceports, does allow for space tourism, so watch this space!
Another area often overlooked when a new facility or technology emerges is education. Launching rockets from here in the UK is an exceptional opportunity to engage young people with the science and engineering of rockets, not to mention tourism, economics and law. Imagine being able to go on a school trip to see a real rocket launch, or to launch your school’s own CubeSat to the edge of space! The resulting need for skilled engineers and technicians is also likely to have an impact on educational provision, particularly for young people living in the vicinity of a spaceport