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UK’s new space regulation will fuel participation in the commercial space race

CAA logo. Credit: CAA

Edinburgh, 21 November 2022. – UK regulations regarding space, in force since July 2021, helped pave the way for Virgin Orbit to get approval for launching its LauncherOne vehicle from Newquay’s Spaceport Cornwall facility. The launch will be the first ever orbital launch from UK soil.

Commercial space lawyer Andrew Sparrow, Founder of Lecote Applied Space Technology Lawyers, says this model shows how to align enabling laws with industry needs. This way, regulation can be effective, practical and liberate commercial space activity in the country rather than acting as a barrier.

Spaceflights in general need a launch operator licence, an orbital operator licence, a licence for range control services, and a spaceport licence. In order to obtain these, operators and service providers have to meet compliance obligations involving safety and environmental considerations.

In the United Kingdom, all spaceflight activity is regulated by the Space Industry Act 2018 and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). According to Mr Sparrow, the speed at which the “regulatory landscape has been implemented in support of the commercial investment” should be applauded. He added that the recent licensing was an “example of active cooperation between the regulators and the operators” signalling a new era for the country.

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