‘Exciting’ deal paves way for more UK astronauts in space

British astronauts could get the chance to blast off into space thanks to a new deal between the UK and a US space company.

The British Space Agency has signed a contract with Axiom Space, a TexasAn established firm working on what it says will become the first commercial space station.

It has previously sent crewed missions into Earth orbit and International Space Station with SpaceX rockets.

The upcoming flight, which will include British astronauts, will spend up to two weeks in orbit to conduct scientific experiments and take part in educational activities.

This will be a commercially sponsored trip European Space Agency (ESA).

Britain has only had two astronauts in space before: Helen Sharman In 1989 and Tim Peake After 27 years.

Rosemary Coogan, a Northern Ireland An astrophysicist, he hopes to reach three after his stay selected to join ESA training program last year.

British astronaut Tim Peake is shown during his first spacewalk aboard the International Space Station in this NASA image released Jan. 15, 2015.  Solving the problem of the power plant, which caused great interest in his homeland.  REUTERS/NASA/Handout via Reuters For editorial use only.  Not sold for marketing or promotional campaigns.  This image is provided
Tim Peake is one of only two British astronauts to have gone into space

Dr Alice Boon, president of industry trade body UKspace, hailed the deal as “incredibly exciting”.

Dr Paul Bate, chief executive of the UK Space Agency, added that it paved the way for more British astronauts to go into orbit and “will inspire millions of us here on Earth”.

Alongside the deal announcement, the agency is inviting UK universities, research institutions and industry to share ideas for experiments that could be carried out during the two-week trip.

It is also exploring the possibility of a national space education and community engagement program.

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It comes as Shetland-based SaxaVord Spaceport awaits permission to host the UK's first vertical rocket launch.

It still needs a license from the Civil Aviation Authoritywho submitted the application last year.

Spaceport Cornwall is the only British site to have attempted an orbital launch. But the long-awaited January mission ended in failure.