Space Industry Bill gets first reading in House of Lords

Stakeholder Briefing – 27 June 2017

  • The Space Industry Bill has been introduced into the House of Lords.
  • This is the first step in the parliamentary process to create new laws to enable exciting new technologies to operate safely from the UK.
  • Introduction of the Bill is a clear signal of the UK’s commitment to enabling commercial spaceflight from UK spaceports, and a big milestone for LaunchUK.

The Space Industry Bill has been introduced into the House of Lords

Today, Lord Callanan, Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Transport, introduced the Space Industry Bill into the House of Lords. The Bill, developed jointly by the Department for Transport, UK Space Agency and Civil Aviation Authority and supported by the Health and Safety Executive, will be published online tomorrow.

What is the Space Industry Bill?

The Space Industry Bill updates the Draft Spaceflight Bill published in February 2017 by taking into account stakeholder feedback and scrutiny by the Commons Science & Technology Committee. A response to this review was published on 22/06/2017.

The purpose of the Space Industry Bill is to boost the economy, British business, engineering and science by making the UK the most attractive place in Europe for commercial spaceflight. The main elements of the Bill are:

  • New powers to license a wide range of spaceflight activities, including vertically-launched rockets, spaceplanes, satellite operation, spaceports and other technologies.
  • A comprehensive and proportionate regulatory framework to manage risk, ensuring that commercial spaceflight in the UK remains safe.
  • Measures to regulate unauthorised access and interference with spacecraft, spaceports and associated infrastructure, drawing on the UK’s extensive expertise – particularly in aviation security.
  • Measures to promote public safety by providing a regulatory framework to cover operational insurance, indemnity and liability.

Why do we need a Bill?

The emerging markets for small satellite launch and sub-orbital flight are forecast to be worth over £25bn globally over the next 20 years. They offer exciting opportunities to grow our space sector, create local jobs and inspire the next generation of British scientists and engineers.

This legislation will ensure the UK can take advantage of these new markets, overcome dependence on foreign launch services and benefit from the development of new spaceports and supply chains.

How will the Bill benefit the UK?

  • Entrepreneurs and UK industry would have new opportunities to build innovative commercial enterprises and develop the technologies that will take us into a new spaceflight era.
  • UK-launched satellites would generate data and services to connect and inform our modern economy.
  • Spaceport sites would be hubs for new local jobs and business, including in construction, engineering and technology.
  • The UK science sector would have more opportunities to access the unique environment of space to conduct cutting edge research. British scientists will have direct local access to sub-orbital flights for their work.
  • Young people would be inspired to seek careers in science, technology, engineering and maths to participate in an expanding UK spaceflight industry.

Why is this important to LaunchUK?

Introduction of the Bill is a major milestone for the UK’s spaceflight ambitions. It is a crucial step towards the creation of an enabling regulatory framework, which is essential for companies to launch small satellites and operate sub-orbital spaceflights from UK spaceports. With this Bill, the Government is sending a clear signal to entrepreneurs, investors, scientists and engineers that the UK is committed to becoming the most attractive destination in Europe to participate in commercial spaceflight and set up a space business.

What happens next?

Over the next year the Bill will be scrutinised by Peers and MPs, and must be approved in the same form by both Houses before becoming an Act of Parliament (law). Following today’s introduction and first reading, the next stage in the process is second reading, which is the first opportunity for members of the House of Lords to debate the key principles and main purpose of a bill and to flag up any concerns or specific areas where they think changes are needed.

A good explanation of the passage of a Bill through parliament can be found here: http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/laws/passage-bill/lords

For further information and guidance about what the Government is doing around commercial spaceflight please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/commercial-spaceflight

If you are interested in hosting a stakeholder event or visit related to the Space Industry Bill please let us know by emailing: satellitelaunchprogramme@ukspaceagency.bis.gsi.gov.uk

Satellite Launch Programme
UK Space Agency