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U.S., Britain enter commercial spaceflight partnership

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (L) and his British counterpart, Grant Shapps, sign a commercial spaceflight partnership agreement on Thursday at Maryland's Smithsonian Institution. Photo courtesy of Britain's Department for Transport
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (L) and his British counterpart, Grant Shapps, sign a commercial spaceflight partnership agreement on Thursday at Maryland's Smithsonian Institution. Photo courtesy of Britain's Department for Transport

May 12 (UPI) -- The United States and Britain entered into a commercial spaceflight partnership agreement Thursday with the aim to launch cheaper, quicker and more streamlined spaceflight operations.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and his British counterpart, Grant Shapps, signed the agreement at Maryland's Smithsonian Institution, London's Department for Transport said in a statement Friday.

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Under the agreement, the two nations agree to work together to boost opportunities for British and U.S. companies to launch missions from either countries' spaceports through reducing red tape and regulatory obstacles, it said.

Specifically, the agreement removes duplication for licensing between the two countries for commercial space activities, reducing costs and procedure burdens while seeking to maintain a high-level of safety standards.

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"Commercial space travel is growing swiftly and it's our responsibility to ensure that these innovations advance safely, encouraging them to develop in ways that benefit us all," Buttigieg said. "We're proud to launch this partnership with the United Kingdom to bring more of the benefits of commercial space travel to our workers, businesses and communities."

Britain's Department for Transport called the agreement a "landmark partnership" that will reduce London's reliance on other countries to launch British-made and -operated satellites.

London has been seeking to bolster is space industry, which supports some 47,000 jobs, as it nears its first-ever launch from home soil at SpacePort Cornwall later this year.

"This transformational partnership is one giant leap for both countries as we prepared for an exciting new era of spaceflight to lift off," Shapps said. "As we look beyond the UK's first planned spaceflight later this year, I look forward to seeing the innovations and opportunities skyrocket thanks to this collaboration."

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There are seven spaceports currently being developed across the European island nation.

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