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To infinity and beyond: UK invests £10 million to grow spaceflight market

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The U.K. government has set its sights high with a new £10 million ($12.5 million) investment in commercial spaceflight.

Grants worth £10 million are being made available to businesses developing spaceflight capabilities, such as spaceport infrastructure and space craft technology, for use within the U.K. by 2020.

The funding comes as part of the government's wider ambitions for the U.K. to capture a larger share of the commercial spaceflight market, worth an estimated £25 billion ($31 billion) over the next 20 years.

Organisations expected to bid for funding are joint enterprises or launch vehicle operators and potential launch sites with plans to launch small satellites or sub-orbital flights – including space tourism and micro-gravity flights.

There is no limit to the total grant which can be applied for, however, an "exceptional case" would be needed for funding over £10 million, a press statement said.

Britain's universities and science minister Jo Johnson said the focus on spaceflight was "one of the key pillars" of the government's industry strategy and would be fundamental to future job creation.

"Spaceflight offers the UK the opportunity to build on our strengths in science, research and innovation.

"We want to see the UK space sector flourish, that is why we are laying the groundwork needed for business to be able to access this lucrative global market."

The government also announced today that it is preparing legislation to develop new regulation around spaceflight in the U.K.