UK Considers Space Tourism Rules
As we've discussed here on SLP, pursuant to international space treaties, nations are responsible for the space activities of their citizens. (See, Outer Space Treaty Art. VI)
Thus, if a UK company like if Virgin Galactic is going to launch from US spaceports, it'll need a green light from the British National Space Centre (BNSC), the entity which oversees UK space activity.
To formulate a regime for licensing UK companies' space tourism activities, as Flight international reports, BNSC will be looking at proposals over the next few months and asking "stakeholders, which could be space law firms, insurance companies and relevant government departments, their views on space tourism for the manned suborbital flight licensing system it thinks it will need under the UK's Outer Space Act, which became law in 1986."
And yes, the Centre "has had preliminary discussions" with Sir Richard Branson's company.
The BNSC spokesperson told Flight International, "At the moment, we are keeping an eye on developments in this field and considering the issue of managing space tourism with the [UK] Civil Aviation Authority."
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On a related note, in his speech at the Parliamentary Space Committee Summer Reception this month, UK science minister Lord Sainsbury said,
"we can calculate the U.K. share of the world-wide space market. In 2005 this was 7.3% overall, 2.3% in the upstream market and 11.8% in the downstream market. Ask yourself a question. How many high-tech and high value industries are there in the UK with such shares? Of course, most of the downstream are straight commercial activities. These figures demonstrate very clearly that the case for space is an excellent one. A lot of secondary arguments can also be made, such as that space encourages people to go into science, but in the coming twelve months I think we should focus on the key argument, which is that space is a high-tech, growing industry where we have a strong presence and it should be strongly supported. And that is the case that I will be making and I hope you will be making over the next 12 months."
By the way, SLP congratulates Dr. David Williams on his appointment as Director General of the British National Space Centre (BNSC), a post he assumed on May 1, 2006.
Hat tip: HobbySpace's RLV News.