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Space Agreement Supports Future US Launches from UK Soil 

By | June 17, 2020

The United States and United Kingdom have signed an agreement paving the way for U.S. companies to launch from U.K. spaceports. Photo: UK Space Agency

The United States and United Kingdom have signed an agreement paving the way for U.S. companies to launch from U.K. spaceports. According to the U.S. Department of State, the agreement establishes technical safeguards for U.S. launches from the U.K., and also sets standards for how sensitive U.S. technology should be used for satellite and rocket launches from foreign locations.

The Agreement on Technology Safeguards Associated with U.S. Participation in Space Launches from the United Kingdom, or the U.S.-U.K. Technology Safeguards Agreement (TSA), was signed on Tuesday by the State Department’s Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation Christopher Ford and the U.K.’s Ambassador to the United States, Karen Pierce. 

U.K. Science Minister Amanda Solloway called the deal a “key moment for our commercial space industry,” and said it will lead to highly skilled jobs in the U.K. and U.S. “This deal with the U.S. takes us one step closer to seeing the first ever launch into space from British soil,” she said. 

The U.K. government has previously awarded nearly $50 million in grants to establish commercial vertical and horizontal small satellite launch from U.K. spaceports, with the first launches set to take place in the early 2020s. 

“The commercial space sector already represents hundreds of millions of dollars in trade between our two countries each year, as well as thousands of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.  This new agreement will generate further growth and prosperity for both our countries,” Ambassador Pierce said in a statement. 

Tony Azzarelli, the co-founder and director of U.K. industry group Access.Space applauded the agreement.

“We are thrilled that the U.K. has signed such agreement as it would boost the space sector in the U.K., both from lending a hand to U.S. launchers, as well as increasing the importance of the U.K. as a launching state and thus investment from government to promote its own launch industry sector, e.g., Skyrora, Orbex, Reaction Engines, Rocket Plane, Spaceport Cornwall, Astroscale, etc.”