Britain could soon begin sending tourists into outer space from a proposed new “spaceport” in Cornwall.
The UK Space Agency last month confirmed it was contributing £7.85 million (A$14.2 million) to work with Virgin Orbit to build the facility, with another proposed for the Scottish Highlands.
The Telegraph reports the government body has now drafted regulations to allow human trips from what would be Europe’s first launch site.
The flights would be sub-orbital launches, which propel travellers beyond the Earth’s atmosphere and allow them to see the curvature of the planet but below the range where they enter orbit.
Virgin Galactic, the early favourite to win the right to operate the first tourist flights, uses horizontal launches to take tourists into space as opposed to rockets.
It’s hoped flight times between the UK and Australia could be cut to just 90 minutes as Virgin’s technology improves.
British astronaut Tim Peake said the UK leading the way would be a gamechanger.
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,” Mr Peake said.
The UK Space Agency’s Andrew Kuh said existing legal frameworks meant human space travel from the UK was closer than ever before.
“We’re hoping to have the right regulations in place so that we could launch from Britain,” he said.
The Cornwall Council is providing another £12 million (A$21.7 million) to the project.