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Scotland might see space flight launches

UK government has plans to overhaul space agency
Fri Apr 01 2011, 14:00

THE UK GOVERNMENT is hoping to breathe some life into Blighty's space travel plans by removing regulatory burdens and injecting £10 million in cash investment.

£10 million, in least in terms of space travel, sounds like small change and when it comes to the space travel agency market is unlikely to be enough to pay for Richard Branson's anti-gravity beard shaver, but according to the Government, its plenty enough to boost the UK Space Agency and kick start the sort of industry that the UK needs.

In a statement the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, said that the money will boost space science research and discovery, and importantly for anyone that has already packed their moonboots, holidays on the moon.

"[We are] Committed to working with the international regulatory authorities to enable space tourism operations in the UK and define regulations for novel space vehicles that offer low cost access to space," it said.

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said that the UK space industry is worth £7.5 billion, in theory, and added that the £10 million would be a good start on the path to raising that sort of money.

"The UK space industry is worth an estimated £7.5 billion and is an important driver for economic growth," he said. "This is why we've earmarked £10 million in the Budget to start a national space technology programme and committed to reducing the regulatory burden on industry."

However, he was looser of lip in an interview with the Daily Mail, where he explained that Scotland is already earmarked as the launch site for any space holidays, and that Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic is the preferred carrier of choice.

"It would be great to see vehicles being launched from the UK again - to see Virgin Galactic launched from Lossiemouth, for example," said Willetts.

"We're already talking to Virgin Galactic. I think it's fair to say Richard Branson is very pleased with the way through, so now we're going to have to work through the detail. I hope we can have the new regime ready in good time. There should be no regulatory obstacle for him to operate from the UK if he decides to do that as his own commercial decision." µ


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