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Deregulating the British space industry

That Tim Evans certainly gets about. The last time I had cause to mention him here, he was emailing me about a Cobden Centre scheme to put Austrian economics on the map. Now, with another hat on that I have not seen him wearing before, he is emailing everyone of consequence in the known universe about this (read the whole thing here – it is just over twenty pages long), which is about how the British Government should allow rather than smother the UK version of the space industry, smother having been its preferred policy until now.

And you know? This just might work. If I were the British Government just now, I would be highly receptive to anything which I could call Doing Something, which did not Cost Too Much, and which preferably hardly cost anything at all. True, the report’s author James C. Bennett does recommend a few fact finding junkets for British regulators, to enable them to learn how to create the Appropriate Regulatory Framework, which is must be, he says:

… predictable, sensible, provide reasonable guarantees of safety and make the UK a venue of choice for space operations …

Why can the rules not be along the lines of: do what you want with your own property, provided it is within the laws of contract (e.g. not deafening to people who have been promised no deafening), provided nobody is swindled or deliberately incinerated (accidental incineration being inevitable from time to time in a business like this), and provided that you do not get so angry with any gawping onlookers that you try to murder them. You don’t need a trip to Canada or Australia or India to devise a set of rules like that.

But then again, such expeditions can be fun, and I suppose there have to be inducements to Government people to behave sensibly. And such is the state of the modern world – the EUropean bit of it especially – that if some activity has not been supplied with the Appropriate Regulatory Framework, it can not even start.

It so happens that James C. Bennett is in the room with me as I write this, he being in Britain now to promote this thing, and he has just said, in connection with the above:

”Better to send regulators to Ottawa than to Paris.”


15 comments to Deregulating the British space industry

  • Ian B

    We have a space industry? Who knew?

  • That’s what I was going to ask, but wasn’t sure I should…

  • Dale Amon

    Yes, it does, hardly even second to the US because the US and UK entrepreneurs are working hand in glove.

    The first one you should think of is: Virgin Galactic. Richard Branson.

  • Alsadius

    Space programs have some inherent safety concerns, and wanting regulation for public protection isn’t crazy. You don’t want to inadvertently restart the V2 bombing campaign, after all. Still, I think we can agree that the amount of regulation needed isn’t nearly as high as the amount that the governmental types will think is needed.

  • Forgot about Branson somehow…

  • Better yet to send regulators on a scenic walking tour of the tribal areas of Pakistan.

  • Roue le Jour

    So how does that work, then? Surely the attraction of east coast America is if you stuff up it falls in the Atlantic. If you stuff up a UK launch, it’ll fall on the Fren… Oh, I get it.

  • Nuke Gray

    Of course Britain has a Space industry! I saw the Top Gear show launch a car into space! It didn’t get very far, but I assumed this was just the start!
    As for Branson, he seems to use America for his space endeavours, so British rules wouldn’t count.
    Let me be the first to say that I found the recent Virgin aircraft computer malfunctions here in Australia comforting. After all, it wouldn’t do for Virgin to have experienced staff members would it?

  • And St Helena would make a superb launch site. Need a bit of an infrastructure boost tho.

  • Andrew Duffin

    I thought we’d given all the money to India so that they could play with rockets.

    Is this happening now because the Indians have refused to take our money any more?

  • Quentin

    St Helena?! Wouldn’t Ascension Island be more appropriate? 🙂

  • Ian B,

    Yes, we do indeed have a space industry. It consists of a couple of blokes in Mid-Glamorgan with an empty washing-up liquid bottle and a whole stack of rubber bands.

  • Don’t count on anything sensible regarding regulation from any country with any connection with the EU. Especially if it flys in some way. Just ask any recreational glider or light aircraft pilot how things are in Europe compared to the USA.

  • One word:


    Ten billion quids and it’s up from Bristol International Spaceport. Or we could just be twats. We will just be twats and spend it on playing Windy Miller. Dear sweet Mary mother of God have we lost the Promethean spirit that much? Yup. Do you hear that rumble? That is Barnes-Wallis developing high angular momentum in his grave. My wife’s Grandmother was his PA don’t ya know. She watched the bouncing bomb tests with him. But that was back in the days when Metro-Vickers employed 20,000 in Salford. That was back in the days when a fellow called Frank Whittle had a cunning plan…

    All subsequently pissed up the wall on utter crapulence.

    And do not get me started on TSR2.

  • He’s not alone. For ongoing international Libertarian efforts, see: http://www.Libertarian-International.org