Commercial space flights could launch from the UK in just three years under new Government plans to conquer the final frontier.
Science Minister Jo Johnson said draft space laws would be published within weeks and announced £10million of grant funding would be made available to space firms.
The Government is bidding to win a slice of a growing £25billion global market in space flight and wants a working space port up and running by 2020.
Possible locations include Newquay airport, Cornwall, Llanbedr airport in Snowdonia, Prestwick airport, near Glasgow, the RAF base at Leuchars near St Andrews, Stornoway airport on the Isle of Lewis and Campbeltown airport, in Scotland.
Mr Johnson said: ‘Space flight offers the UK the opportunity to build on our strengths in science, research and innovation.
‘It provides opportunities to expand into new markets, creating highly-skilled jobs and boosting local economies across the country. That is why it is one of the key pillars of our Industrial Strategy.
‘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 worth an estimated £25 billion over the next 20 years.
‘The call for proposals I announced today, together with a new, dedicated Space flight Bill, will help make our space ambitions a reality.’
Mark Nisbett, a space sector specialist at consultants RSM, said Britain had good geography for a space port.
He said: ‘Today’s announcement adds further impetus to the growing space sector in the UK, which today supports £250bn of output across the economy as well as 38,000 direct jobs.
‘It also outperforms the wider economy in terms of both productivity and growth.’
He added: ‘UK businesses such as Orbital Access, and global groups such as SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, are already pushing ahead with their plans and today’s announcements will help them and others looking to make UK commercial space flight a reality.’
Bids for the grant funding must be submitted to the UK Space Agency by April 15.
To be considered for a grant, joint enterprises or vehicle operators and potential space ports should propose an outline business plan on how they intend to launch small satellites or sub-orbital flights, including space tourism, microgravity flights or space planes, from the UK by 2020.
British interest in space flight spiked last year when Tim Peake became the first UK-funded astronaut in space.
He spent six months in orbit aboard the International Space Station, including an almost five hours space walk.