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New roadmap for pro-growth regulation in UK space sector launched as Science Minister launches new National Space Operations Centre

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Ministry of Defence

New regulatory review for space sector has been published, and Science and Defence Ministers launch National Space Operations Centre.

  • New review celebrates the successes of the UK’s growing space sector, marked by milestones such as the historic first launch from UK soil in Cornwall in January 2023
  • Developed collaboratively with industry the Space Regulatory Review highlights seven key themes aimed at solidifying the UK’s leadership in safe, secure, and sustainable space operations on the global stage
  • Science and Defence Ministers also launched the National Space Operations Centre, protect UK interests from space-related threats, risks and hazards

Science Minister Andrew Griffith, and Minister for defence Procurement James Cartlidge visited RAF High Wycombe today (Thursday 16 May), home to UK Space Command, to officially launch the National Space Operations Centre (NSpOC) and announce a new report published by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT).

The Space Regulatory Review establishes the key regulatory priority areas for the UK’s space sector to maintain its innovative, attractive, and competitive regulatory environment, including the importance of fostering international partnerships with spacefaring nations and incentivising world-leading sustainable practices to protect the space environment.

Developed in collaboration with over 100 industry representatives, this new report offers a unified regulatory roadmap for the future of the UK space sector and our flourishing space economy.  

The report comes as Science Minister Andrew Griffith and Defence Minister Cartlidge visited UK Space Command to launch National Space Operations Centre, which brings together almost 70 civilian and military personnel to safeguard the UK against space-related threats, risks and hazards, like satellite collisions.

The launch of the NSpOC marks a significant milestone, as it fulfils a key commitment outlined in the government’s National Space Strategy, Defence Strategy, and the recently announced Space Industrial Plan, published in March 2024.

The NSpOC – jointly funded by DSIT/UK Space Agency and MoD with £20 million funding and in partnership with the Met Office – will use a global network of sensors to support space operations, with those on-site overseeing and delivering critical missions, from tracking an average of 20 to 30 objects re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere a month, to protecting the UK licensed satellites from collisions with space debris.

Space Minister Andrew Griffith said:

As space technology advances, it becomes increasingly intertwined with our daily lives. From precise GPS navigation to highly localised weather forecasting, we rely upon space to underpin critical sectors of our economy.

The launch of the National Space Operations Centre today is a further advance in our space capabilities and our commitment to keep our nation safe and secure.

Space may be the ‘final frontier’, but we need to ensure sustainable access. The UK is one of the space faring nations whose pioneering efforts to track and remove hazardous space junk and well-designed space regulations have a key role to play.

Minister for Defence Procurement James Cartlidge said:

This government is working to develop and protect a robust domestic commercial space sector. Space offers incredible opportunities for our prosperity but there are also risks.

The National Space Operations Centre will help to protect our national interests, supported by military personnel working in close collaboration with colleagues across government.

The report provides clarity and certainty for the UK space sector, its investors, and the global space community by focusing on three core objectives: identifying regulatory gaps and opportunities; prioritising safety, security, and sustainability; and supporting government objectives to maintain UK leadership in modern space regulations.

The report has identified seven themes, that if fully implemented, would deliver the greatest impact for the UK’s space sector and wider economy:

1. Agility – greater, responsive coordination across government departments and regulators.
2. Innovation – a dynamic framework that supports novel and emerging missions and technologies.
3. Growth – a progressive regulatory framework that encourages investment.
4. International Partnership – spacefaring nation with aligned framework and international best practices.
5. Safety and Sustainability – incentivising sustainable space activities, protecting the space environment and its celestial bodies.
6. Accessibility – a coherent, suite of primary and secondary space legislations and clear published guidance.
7. National Interest – a civil and commercial space regulatory framework that support UK national security.

Industry stakeholders in the UK space sector have strongly endorsed the review, emphasising the critical importance of regulatory confidence in driving growth, innovation, and sustainability. With this support and a unified regulatory roadmap in place, the UK is poised to lead the way in safe, secure, and sustainable space operations on the global stage.

Dr Paul Bate, CEO of the UK Space Agency, said:

The launch of the National Space Operations Centre is a flagship example of civil and military cooperation and demonstrates the UK commitment to keeping space safe and sustainable. Together with the publication of the government’s Space Regulations Review, this is a major milestone in the delivery of the National Space Strategy and a clear signal of the UK’s ambitions to be a leading space nation.

Nick Shave, UKspace IOSM Committee Chair said:

The government has performed a detailed space regulatory consultation with many stakeholders in the space sector including industry and academia. This open approach has been very much welcomed by the sector. Leading on from the consultation, this Space Regulatory Review Report provides a clear, actionable way forward across 7 priority areas that, when implemented, promise to create the enabling regulatory environment that we need to unleash the industrial capability in fast growing areas of the global space sector such as In-Orbit Servicing and Manufacturing (IOSM) where the UK is poised to become a world leader.

Imogen Oremerod, Energy & Infrastructure Associate, Linklaters LLP said:

We welcome the findings of the UK space regulatory review and its alignment with the national space sector vision, including its focus on innovation, growth, and sustainability. In particular, we expect the emphasis on regulatory agility and coordination across regulators and government to support our clients’ growth ambitions, enhancing the competitiveness of the UK space industry and attracting further investment into the sector. We look forward to helping our clients to continue to capitalise on this opportunity.

John Hanley, Chair of UK Space (CGI) said:

If the UK is to achieve our shared objectives for a growing and globally competitive space sector, we must have a forward-leaning, proportionate and agile approach to regulation.  The Space Regulatory Review, which was conducted with close engagement between the government and stakeholders in industry and academia, sets out a series of welcome outcomes and actions that will help to deliver this goal.

Joanne Wheeler MBE, Director Earth and Space Sustainable Initiative, Co-Chair Spaceflight, Safety Regulatory Council, Managing Director, Alden Legal said:

The UK has a strong reputation for law, regulation and policy across industries to catalyse investment and growth. The space industry has called upon the government to further support it through enabling, agile, growth-driven, sustainability-focused regulation, and through the Space Regulatory Review the government has stepped up. The UK now needs to be bold and proficient in its implementation of the outcomes of this review, in an increasingly competitive international environment, anticipate innovation and lead.

 

Channel website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-science-innovation-and-technology

Original article link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-roadmap-for-pro-growth-regulation-in-uk-space-sector-launched-as-science-minister-launches-new-national-space-operations-centre

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