The UK Space Ambitions: Steps Forward Global Industry

UK's Space Ambitions Move Towards a Global Industry

The United Kingdom has taken a giant leap towards becoming a leading force in the global space industry. Spaceports in Scotland, Wales, and Cornwall will be ready for a UK rocket launch already in summer 2022. Let’s take a closer look at this pivotal moment.


Did you know that the UK space ambitions have a long history with the British space program launched already in 1952? Ten years later, with the help of a NASA rocket, the first British satellite, Ariel 1, was sent to space. And the 1971 carrier Black Arrow, which placed the satellite Prospero into orbit from Australia, was already all British made. These are achievements that show the UK’s capabilities in space explorations. And now, in 2021, the UK space industry has made massive progress towards commercial spaceflight. The Parliament passed new regulations that allow UK-based spaceports to start operating in summer 2022. We are expecting the first UK rocket launch in the same year. And for the first time in history, the rockets will take off from UK soil. So don’t miss the pivotal events in British space aspirations. Check out this article to get up to date with the latest developments. Here we go!


Commercial Space Race Is Led by Entrepreneurs


The primary forces driving UK space plans are not any more government agencies. The task of developing commercial spacecraft is now handled by private companies and entrepreneurs. That’s why there’s an extra emphasis on raising brand awareness and transparency in business methods. For example, companies using eco-friendly technologies to build modular rocket launch vehicles can raise funding by promoting their care for the environment.


Tests in Scotland


At the moment, the UK has set up facilities to test its new engines in Scotland, and we’re glad to announce that the testing of two engines has been successful. Plus, the cool thing is that it only took a few weeks to build the test stand for the engine. It’s an unprecedented speed that shows the technology’s readiness for a new space era.


At the moment, there are altogether three British engines to test:


  • The 7 MT engine.


  • The 3.5 Kn engine.


  • The 3 MT engine. This engine is the product of additive manufacturing. 3D printing in spacecraft building is becoming the new norm.


The first two engines are for the three different stages of a launch vehicle. It takes two engines to reach orbit. The third engine is for a smaller launch vehicle, which will remain below the orbit. It completed a full static fire test in May.


Below-Orbit Rocket’s Fire Test: a Milestone in the UK Rocket Launch


Passing the fire test means that the 11-meter rocket is ready to take off. And that’s big news. It’s going to be the UK’s first big vertical static fire test since the days of the Black Arrow program in the 1970s.


Again, the mobile launch complex for the test got built with staggering speed. It took only five days to set it up in Scotland at Kildermorie Estate. And don’t think the speed of the complex’s construction hindered its performance. The test showed that all the ground equipment was working flawlessly.


The test also validated the vehicle itself. The rocket engine burned the way it was supposed to, and all operating systems were in full motion. In short, the rocket showed readiness for a successful take-off.


Working Together With the United States


The UK spaceports have garnered such attention that even US space companies are looking into launching from the UK. The two governments already agreed on how American sensitive space technology should get used outside the US. This agreement enables a busy trade between commercial space industries on two sides of the Atlantic. So entrepreneurs across the sector are not only forced to amp up their research efforts. They also need to keep innovating the technologies to stay competitive. That drive for the number one spot creates thousands of new jobs for both countries. All this contributes to economic growth and gives the UK a chance to raise its importance as a rocket launching country.


Making Space Safer


The UK has a central role in helping the younger generation of rocket builders and scientists getting the practical experience they need to carry the space-access industry to the new era. But first, they need to deal with problems caused by the previous generation of space explorers. There’s a good amount of space debris up there that can potentially hinder future space missions. An extra-large three-stage rocket (the one whose two engines passed the tests in Scotland), equipped with a space tug, will take off in 2022. Its mission is to clean up some debris and make future launches safer.


Looking Forward to the Future


Just like the aerospace industry of today would’ve seemed impossible for a 19th-century man, the space industry of the next decades will seem wonderous for modern people. Space technology is developing rapidly, and it’s about to change our economies, societies, and whole lives. And for the first time in history, the UK is leading the race. The tests for various innovative engines and rockets to be launched from the UK’s territory have all been successful, and now we’re only looking for the first take-offs. What an inspiring time to be alive!


Will future space technology take us to Mars by 2030? Share your opinions in the comments.

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