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UKSA Lessons Learned from Spaceport Cornwall Launch

LauncheOne. Credit Virgin Orbit / UKSA

Ibadan, 18 December 2023. – Following the UK’s first-ever orbital launch from Spaceport Cornwall earlier this year, the UK Space Agency (UKSA) conducted a comprehensive First Launch Lessons Learned exercise and has published a report that identifies areas for improvement that will support future launches from the UK. Furthermore, work is already underway to implement the lessons learned for the benefit of the UK space industry and help inform future launch activity from the UK.

To identify lessons learned, the UK Space Agency consulted with multiple program stakeholders from across government and industry who shared their reflections through a series of independently facilitated workshops. Through these workshops, prominent themes emerged from the events leading up to and including the Pathfinder launch. These themes collectively identify key areas for lessons learned and form the basis of the recommendation actions developed to mitigate the recurrence of the issues raised.

Regarding the issues raised, the exercise recommended that the Government review the regulatory landscape and, where possible, improve the coordination of licensing and guidance with operators to reduce administrative efforts and costs, particularly regarding the Space Industry Act. Regarding the duplicity of licensing and documentation within the registration processes prior to launching a commercial rocket. The UKSA pointed out the importance of clearer guidance on licensing processes and overall streamlining of the informational requirements.

The UK Space Agency collaborated extensively with international allies and regulatory agencies within Europe and the United States to negotiate arrangements that enable spaceflight activities to take place from the UK. Furthermore, the Agency signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with Iceland, the Faroes and Ireland, covering airspace
interactions and maritime deposition.

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