The UK has launched its first ever National Space Policy, hoping to make the country Europe’s hub for commercial spaceflight.
Released just two days before the first UK state-funded astronaut Tim Peake takes off for his six-month mission at the International Space Station, the policy promises a £11.8bn boost to the country’s economy.
Supported by the UK government's investment into microgravity research, human space flight and technology development, the policy aims to ensure the country grabs a larger slice of the booming global space-technology market.
The document says the UK could control up to 10 per cent of this market by 2030, which would help create 100,000 new jobs and generate £40bn for the economy.
"For decades mankind has dreamed of space travel and the final frontier, and from today the UK will trigger the next scientific and innovation revolution to turn science fiction into science fact,” said Business Secretary Sajid Javid.
"Not only are we celebrating the launch of the first UK Government-backed astronaut, but our first ever space policy will build on the inspiration he provides to grow our burgeoning space industry. Historically we haven't been a major player in space programmes; this policy will change that."
Space-based assets are becoming indispensable in a growing number of applications including disaster relief, defence, and transport and communications.
The policy underscores the importance of the space sector for innovations, national security and public services.
It outlines the government’s commitment to develop a robust and competitive commercial space sector. It also stresses the importance of international cooperation for maximising the benefits from UK investment in space.