You Could Soon Fly To Australia In Just 90 Minutes As The UK Joins The Space Tourism Race
If you've ever had to sit through a 17-hour Qantas flight from London to Australia then you'll be pleased to know that long-haul flights may soon be a thing of the past if the UK Space Agency has anything to do with it.
Plans are already underway to rival NASA and US technology giants with regulations being drafted to allow human launches from a spaceport in Newquay, Cornwall, and if everything goes to plan, suborbital spacecrafts could be operating in the early 2020s to provide tourist flights not just across continents, but even into space.
An artist's impression of Cornwall's new space port
The spaceport plan, which has a whopping £20 million in funding, could also see the opening of a spaceport in the Scottish Highlands and while competition to take the first tourists into space is fierce, Virgin Galactic spacecrafts are a strong contender to operate the inaugural flights and take passengers beyond Earth's atmosphere.
Speaking of Britain's involvement in the race to space, British astronaut Tim Peake, 47, said it is "incredibly important" for the UK to lead the way, adding: "For Britain to be the first spaceport in Europe to be able to offer that service because we have the legislation in place, because we've sorted out our infrastructure, that will be huge."
British astronaut Tim Peake
"It's a very exciting time right now. Space tourism can come under some criticism as a sport for the rich but that's how a lot of things start, that's how aviation started...what might be perceived as an expensive folly today actually can in future become a very efficient means of transport," he explained.
UK Space Agency's Andrew Kuh added: "The Space Industry Act 2018 has already put in place the legal framework. We're hoping to have the right regulations in place so that we could launch from Britain."
More than 600 people have already paid £157,000, or put down deposits to fly aboard Virgin's sub-orbital flights, including Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. And although the first flights are likely to launch from the US, it looks like Britain may well be the first country for space tourism in Europe. The government is also working closely with the US to establish the necessary technical and legal safeguards for US space launch vehicle operations from UK sites.
What will they think of next?
Featured Image Credit: Credit: SWNS