Big Day for UK Space Technology Industry – we now have a spaceflight regulator!

Colin Macleod, Head of UK Space Regulation confirmed earlier that for the last 18 months, the CAA has been preparing to be come the UK’s space regulator and today they have announced that they are open for business to any UK or international company that wants to operate under a UK space licence.

The Civil Aviation Authority will licence space companies under the Space Industry Act 2018 and Outer Space Act 1989. The regulations that come into force today are the Space Industry Regulations 2021.

The Civil Aviation Authority is already experienced in harnessing innovation whilst regulating for safety in aviation and has overseen the provision of approvals for testing and trialling several new technologies including, full scale non-hydrocarbon propulsion demonstration aircraft, highly novel electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft intended for “flying taxi” services, and beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone operations.

Richard Moriarty, Chief Executive at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said:

“The UK already has a leading satellite industry and can capitalise on further growth within the space sector. The regulatory framework that the Government is putting in place allows for innovation and new technology underpinned by high standards of safety and security. Space will be embedded within the CAA’s wider ecosystem, drawing on, and contributing to, wider experience and expertise across the organisation. We will be an open, effective and proportionate regulator.”

The UK is well-placed to capitalise on the growth of the space sector, with the right geography, business environment and a thriving industry all underpinned by a safety regulatory regime that has the highest standards of public protection, while being proportionate and enabling innovation and technology to thrive.

Working with the Department for Transport, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and the UK Space Agency, the CAA recognises its important role in the development of the UK space industry.

The licensing process will require applicants to provide a detailed assessment of safety and security considerations, including, a comprehensive safety case, an environmental assessment, financial resources, security and cyber risk mitigation.

The CAA will only regulate where it has to and will tailor its approach to meet the specific needs of each and every space mission. In doing this, the benefits of the regulation will outweigh any burden or cost imposed. This has been the case with aviation innovators and is a principle that the regulator will apply to the space industry.

A full assessment of the application, including seeking independent assurance, will then follow, before finally seeking the Secretary of State’s consent for the licence to be issued.

The CAA will also carry out monitoring and oversight as operations are conducted.

As the UK’s airspace regulator, the CAA will also handle any temporary or airspace changes required to enable space activities from UK soil to take place.

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