New Agreement Between British and American Governments Boosts UK Launch

Agreement signing; Image: US Embassy

On Tuesday 16 June 2020, the US-UK Technology Safeguards Agreement, also known as the Agreement on Technology Safeguards Associated with U.S. Participation in Space Launches from the United Kingdom, was signed by Dame Karen Pierce, British Ambassador to the United States, and Christopher Ford, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Non-proliferation. This agreement, establishing the technical safeguards to ensure the proper handling of technology in accordance with the United States’ founding membership of the Missile Technology Control Regime, means that American companies can launch from the United Kingdom, increasing the potential customer base for British spaceports.

Dame Karen, who took office on 7 February 2020, holds an MSc in International Strategy and Diplomacy from the London School of Economics, and was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in the 2018 Birthday Honours List, is the first woman to hold the post of British Ambassador to the United States. Speaking about the Agreement, she said that the agreement “Marks an exciting new area for UK-US space collaboration and represents a significant step towards US companies launching from UK spaceports. 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.”

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “This deal with the US takes us one step closer to seeing the first ever launch into space from British soil. This is a key moment for our commercial space industry, and I look forward to seeing companies from Scotland to Newquay benefiting, and the creation of highly skilled jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Tony Azzarelli, one of the founders, and the Director of, British industry group Access.Space, expressing approval of the agreement, said: “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.”

Summary: Grif Ingram

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