18th May 2012 12:23pm | By Laura Chubb
The UK needs a spaceport, according to business leaders who claim the UK will fall behind other countries if it doesn't build one.
The Institute of Directors warned that the UK could miss out on an estimated £16 billion market if it doesn't build a spaceport and neglects to establish regulations for space flights.
Author of the report by the Institute of Directors, Dan Lewis, said: "We are just on the verge of space [tourism] moving from what people might think of as 'Star Trek' fantasy to the start of something more realistic.
"There is a new breed of very well financed entrepreneurs who are looking to make this happen. [But] this is a globally competitive environment and the potential investors and suppliers could move anywhere – in that respect it is no different to any other business."
It is believed that there will be a huge market for any country that is willing to support private companies offering flights to space, as space tourists are willing to pay vast sums for the service. Hundreds of people have already paid six-figure sums to fly with Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, set to launch within the next few years. Pictured is a prototype for the interior of a Virgin Galactic commercial spacecraft.
The UK space sector is estimated to be supporting 100,000 jobs by 2020.