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Space Industry Bill flies through parliament paving way to commercial space flights

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Government plans to enable the UK to become part of the burgeoning private space travel industry have cleared a parliamentary milestone.

The Space Industry Bill, which aims to create a regulatory framework to allow commercial spaceflight activities to be carried out from UK launch sites, received its third reading in the House of Lords.

The legislation is central to the government’s stated ambition of Britain becoming a “leading player” in the expanding industry and increasing its share of the global market from 6.5 per cent today to 10 per cent by 2030.

Speaking at third reading, Transport Minister Baroness Sugg hailed the UK space industry as a “British success story”.

She said the Bill, which now goes to the House of Commons for further consideration, would enable new satellite launch services and low gravity spaceflight from the UK.

“Today we stand one step closer to a commercial space age,” she added.

It is hoped spaceflights will generate new business opportunities for technology and tourism in remote areas of the UK.

Among the aerodromes vying to become the UK’s first space port is Glasgow Prestwick.

The bid has the support of Tory former Scottish secretary Lord Lang of Monkton, who told the government there was “a strong case for the triggering of a huge economic potential payback” by locating the space port in what was one of the most deprived areas of Scotland.

Last year, Virgin Galactic’s latest spaceship VSS Unity completed its first free-glide flight, a major step towards the company’s space tourism plans, which suffered a major setback in 2014 when the first version of the vessel crashed killing a co-pilot. 

In September Elon Musk's SpaceX announced plans to miniaturise his company’s rocket ship in order to lower costs and give it next-generation capabilities that could be used to travel to the Moon, Mars or around the Earth. 

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