Space flights and satellite launches can now “blast off” from UK soil after new regulations came into force, transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced.
The rules provide a framework to regulate the space industry and will unlock “a potential £4bn of market opportunities over the next decade”, according to the Department for Transport (DfT).
The first launch is expected to take place next year.
It would be the first time a spacecraft or satellite has taken off from a European country, the DfT said.
Many European companies currently launch from a site in French Guiana, South America.
Spaceport sites have been planned across the UK.
It is hoped the UK space industry will launch satellites to improve satnav systems, and boost the monitoring of weather patterns and climate change.
Space tourism trips and hypersonic flights – which are faster than the speed of sound – will eventually launch from the UK, the DfT claimed.
Shapps said: “We stand on the cusp of the new commercial space age, and this is the blast-off moment for the UK’s thriving space industry, demonstrating Government’s commitment to put Britain at the global forefront of this sector.
“These regulations will help create new jobs and bring economic benefits to communities and organisations right across the UK, helping us to level up as we inspire the next generation of space scientists and engineers.”
The Civil Aviation Authority has been appointed as regulator of the UK space industry.