The British are coming — for the rocket-launching industry


Partnerships are a focus for the UKSA, especially when it comes to funding and regulations. Barcham emphasized that the grants are not intended as a way for the U.K. government to direct the market’s growth.

“This is about seeding the market and kick-starting activity,” Barcham said. “Unlike other countries around the world, what we’re not doing is running a government facility, we’re not procuring a government service.”

She wants the UKSA’s regulations to be the most modern in the world and sees the current environment as a clear opportunity to write more-user friendly licensing rules. Regulations “in a number of countries doesn’t really cater” to a rapid launch cadence, Barcham said, and instead has “a lot of cumbersome heritage.”

“We really want to make it user-friendly,” Barcham said, noting that one thing the agency has heard “is the involvement of multiple different regulators in a single country … makes things really confusing.”

While three different UK bodies that have authority to regulate commercial space, Barcham said UKSA does not “want to have license applicants try to work out which body they need to try to apply to and deal with multiple different processes.”

UKSA is instead testing a website which acts as an application portal. The government would then sort out which parts of a license need to go to which regulatory authorities, so companies would only deal “with one simple interface,” Barcham said.

The U.S. is attempting to fix similar flaws in its own regulations. As SpaceX and others have slammed existing space regulations, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced further details Tuesday about how his department intends to become “a one-stop shop” for regulations.The Commerce Department plans to work with the existing regulations enforced by the Federal Aviation Administration and Federal Communications Commission, Ross said.



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