During todays budget announcement the UK’s Chancellor has indicated that changes will be made to the 1986 Outer Space Act. The move is intended to resolve the issue of the unlimited liabilities a company might face in the event of a space related accident. These liabilities have long been seen as something of a block to the further expansion of the UKs space industry as it pushes up the cost of insurance premiums and makes the UK an uncompetative place to do space business.
As well as the changes to the liability rules, the chancellor has also called for a review of the licensing requirements that are laid out in the act to make them more relevant to the emerging space tourism market. This would potentially make the UK a far more appealing option to companies looking for a base of operation in Europe.
This is great news for the UKs space tourism industry but particularly for Virgin Galactic who is already considering setting up a potential launch site in the UK, with sites in Scotland being ear marked as potential candidates.
Todays budget has also brought a much-needed £10m boost to the UK space industry. The money is to be spent on the development of space craft systems and is therefore most likely to find its way it the development of satellites. This investment comes as a part of a £100m investment in the UKs science sector.
I’m sure there will be many people in the UKs Space and Science industry that will be over the moon (pun sort of intended) with the £100m injection, but its worth keeping in mind that this years budget also provides the same amount to fix potholes across the nations roads!
So, what are your thoughts? Is the UK doing enough to support the sciences and can the UK ever become a serious contender in the Commercial Space Industry? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!