UK Transport Minister Trudy Harrison wants first launches from Cornwall this summer
It’s the start of a crucial year for the UK’s burgeoning space industry. The UK government has set out to build a strong and vibrant industry over the next decade, and the country could see the first satellites launched from its soil this year, UK Transport Minister Trudy Harrison has said. By satellite.
In the following interview, Harrison details the UK government’s space ambitions, the importance of the Spaceflight Safety and Regulatory Council it has just set up and what we can expect to see from the UK space industry and its new spaceport in Cornwall in 2022. .
BY SATELLITE: How important is the Spaceflight Safety and Regulatory Council. What are the key objectives?
Harrisson: This is a new area for the UK and space security is of paramount importance. The Spaceflight Safety and Regulatory Council is a partnership between industry and the UK government to bring me together with other ministers. We have high-level stakeholders involved, and that’s to ensure the UK has the right regulatory environment to support a growing UK spaceflight market, and really contribute to the Prime Minister’s ambition and certainly the UK’s ambition to become a world leader in space. We provide information, advice and recommendations on the Space Industry Act 2018, Industry Regulations 2021. We have been commissioned to provide recommendations on delivery issues in the UK space sector, which are directly affected by the Space Industry Act and the regulation of commercial spaceflight. We had the first meeting on November 25 last year, and it will continue to meet every four months.
BY SATELLITE: What gap does it fill from a regulatory point of view?
Harrisson: Space launch is a new area for the UK The government’s response to our public consultation in 2020 was that we are committed to continuing to work with the spaceflight industry and regulators to keep the new regulations up to date. ‘study. We published the new space industry regulations and guidelines in July last year, we are really grateful for the feedback we received from the space community. Now that they are implemented, this contribution will be just as important as we learn to license and operate in the years to come, which will hopefully begin this year.
BY SATELLITE: With satellite volumes increasing over the next few years, how can the board secure operations in space?
Harrisson: Safety is at the heart of the work we do. We are committed to enabling safe and sustainable commercial spaceflight through efficient and effective regulation, so striking that balance is essential. The Space Industry Act 2018 allows companies to use advanced technologies while maintaining public safety. The law provides an important and appropriate legal framework that supports safe, secure and sustainable launch operations from this country. It will accompany an already very well-established Outer Space Act (1986), which relates to the governance of UK space and satellite operations to date. This will apply to operations outside the UK. Applicants wishing to operate spaceports and perform spaceflight activities will need to ensure that the risks associated with their activities are properly understood and managed. This is where we are right now. We talk to operators who provide security there. The potential launch of spaceports and spaceport operators will be required to produce security records, for example, as part of the process.
BY SATELLITE: How will the Spaceflight Safety and Regulatory Council work with other regulators/industry bodies around the world?
Harrisson: We work closely with the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), but membership of the Spaceflight Safety and Regulatory Council is also a representation of the segments of the commercial spaceflight industry that are impacted by the Spaceflight Safety and Regulatory Council. space industry and new regulations on commercial spaceflight. We will ensure that we continue to work with industry to ensure that the UK is the safest and most effective regulator of space activities in the world. The work has just started, so we will explore what other industry bodies and regulators we can work with to ensure we are leveraging the right levels of expertise as we progress through work in this area.
BY SATELLITE: Given that the UK aims to be a one stop shop for space, manufacturing, launching, operating, how important is regulation here?
Harrisson: People across the country are now recognizing that we’re harnessing satellite technology, whether it’s connecting people with friends and family, monitoring the environment, or fighting climate change. . My work on the future of transport absolutely depends on an effective spatial connection. Space connects us all and is central to our daily lives. With space industry regulations coming into force earlier this year, it is now possible for the first time ever to carry out launches into space from UK spaceports. We know we are on the cusp of Britain’s new commercial space age. We already have a thriving satellite manufacturing industry, and that was really a motivating factor to do this. We excel in the provision of satellite communications, and therefore high-end navigation services for example. That’s why the UK government has this vision for the UK to be at the forefront of the world in small satellite launches and these emerging space transportation markets. Also, when it comes to the location of launches, it supports upgrading. It supports many other high-skilled jobs across the country. This gives our country greater control and options to send our satellites into space and provide benefits to all.
BY SATELLITE: Fast forward 12 months, what would you like to accomplish in 2022?
Harrisson: We really need to focus on developing UK launch capability. We already have a thriving satellite manufacturing industry. With the entry into force of the Space Industry Regulations, this will generate and support many more highly skilled jobs. Our vision is for the UK to be at the global forefront of emerging launch and space transportation markets. Getting there is a priority. The UK space industry is a success story of invention and innovation, entrepreneurship and global ambition. It is fundamental for our country. We want the first UK launches to take place in 2022, including hopefully launches from Cornwall this summer. We work closely with industry to develop regulations, as well as guidance to establish the space environment and responsible business operations. So we have granted a grant to launch the business activities to achieve the launch this year. It’s about launching a fast-paced UK spaceflight industry, creating socio-economic benefits for communities across the UK. These are those launches. They are the priority. This is what we want to achieve.
BY SATELLITE: What do you think is the main obstacle to the space economy?
Harrisson: Working with industry, we never really let any obstacles stand in our way. We already have a really thriving space sector. It’s unique. It is a success. And with the new regulations coming into force, we have the most modern and progressive spaceflight regulations in the world. Our goal is quite simple. We want to be the first country in Europe to offer manufacturers of small satellites a direct, end-to-end launch path. We want to build on the industry leader in small satellites in the UK.
BY SATELLITE: Did you have a lot of experience in the space sector before taking on this role in government? What have been your observations of the industry so far?
Harrisson: I probably represent the vast majority of people across the UK who used the connections that space and satellites allow us to have, without really considering how I was able to find a route between two destinations, or connect with my family and my friends. It was a revelation to learn that the UK space sector is worth over £16 billion. It directly employs 45,000 people in the UK Satellite [services] support at least £360 billion of GDP. It was amazing for me actually, because I stepped into that role. It fits very well with this decarbonization agenda that I’m dealing with and the future of transport, as we think about connected and automated vehicles. It will depend on a thriving space sector.
I live on the west coast of the Lake District, which is a particularly rural part of the UK. When I talk to my colleagues in Shetland and Cornwall, I recognize the rural challenges, the social and economic challenges that are sparsely populated, geographically isolated. communities endure. That’s why these colleagues are so excited about the space launch. This is because of the opportunities it brings to leveling in particular.
I have four daughters aged 18, 19, 22 and 23. It’s great to be able to talk to them about space and satellites. I can now talk to them about how it relates to so much more in life and the future of the work they do. It’s especially exciting to be able to talk to young women who I think weren’t disproportionately represented, but now that’s changing.