PLANS to enable UK spaceflights to “flourish” while remaining “safe” will be published on Friday, the Department for Transport (DfT) said.

The Government will release its response to a consultation on regulatory changes required to allow the country’s first space launch to take place within the next few years.

Traditional rockets launched vertically into space, high-altitude balloons and spaceplanes could all set off from UK soil once the measures are introduced, according to the DfT.

All launches will be required to take place from a licensed spaceport.

Proposed locations for the sites are Newquay in Cornwall, Snowdonia in North Wales and the Western Isles, Shetland, Sutherland, Glasgow Prestwick and Campbeltown, all in Scotland.

The DfT said its regulations will “strike a balance between creating the conditions that will allow the space sector to flourish in the UK, while ensuring that it is also safe”.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps claimed “the sky is no longer the limit” when it comes to the UK’s ambitions for spaceflights.

He said: “Today we’re making a giant leap for growth and prosperity for the whole of Great Britain.

“I’m committed to growing the UK’s space industry, and with the most modern piece of space legislation in the world we are cementing our leading role in this sector, unlocking a new era in commercial spaceflight for all four corners of our nation.”

Science minister Amanda Solloway said: “The UK’s space sector is thriving and we have bold ambitions to be the first country in Europe to launch small satellites, while building space capabilities in every corner of the UK.

“Working with our space industry, regulators and across Government, we will develop a modern, safe and flexible regulatory framework that will support a new era of sustainable commercial spaceflight across the UK.”

The Government hopes its plans will create high-skilled jobs for scientists and engineers, as well as provide environmental benefits through observation of weather patterns, climate change monitoring and detection of harmful activities.