April 28, 2011

UK To Allow Space Tourism

To encourage space tourism, the United Kingdom's government will relax its rules and allow operators to launch aspiring astronauts into orbit, reports the Telegraph.

Currently, space travel for amateurs is regulated by the same rules relating to commercial air travel, making it difficult to launch rockets in the country.

Science Minister David Willetts announced that the Civil Aviation Authority will no longer be responsible for the space industry.

Instead, the U.K. Space Agency was ordered to "develop reforms which will remove restrictions which put UK operators at a competitive disadvantage, and prepare proposals for new regulation for space vehicles to promote tourism in the UK."

In addition, the Government would work with the European Aviation Safety Authority to help ensure that next generation space planes were safe for space tourists, a spokesman says.

The Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) is the only one, currently, to provide any regular opportunities for amateur astronauts to explore space.

Dennis Tito, an American businessman, was the first space tourist. He visited the International Space Station for seven days in 2001. Only six more people have paid to be launched into space since then.

Once-in-a-lifetime trips like this to the International Space Station can cost anywhere between $20 million and $35 million.


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