Science and Exploration

Nearly 350 Space Licences Issued As Regulator Ramps Up Engagement Ahead Of Next UK Launch

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
UK Civil Aviation Authority
May 18, 2023
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Nearly 350 Space Licences Issued As Regulator Ramps Up Engagement Ahead Of Next UK Launch
UK Civil Aviation Authority

Nearly 350 licences have been granted to companies in the UK space sector since July 2021, the UK Civil Aviation Authority has announced on the day its Joint-Interim Chief Executives Paul Smith and Rob Bishton visit businesses from Scotland’s space industry.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority is helping to develop a safe and thriving UK space industry as part of its work as the space regulator.

Some 343 licenses have been issued, with the regulator also monitoring more than 750 UK satellites in space.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority also issued the very first UK spaceport and launch licences last year and supported the deployment and sustainability of the OneWeb satellite constellation – one of the largest constellations in the world.

There are a further 25 applications at various stages in the pipeline from aspiring spaceports, launch and satellite operators, including some from Scottish businesses. The UK Civil Aviation Authority is also engaging with a further 20 potential applicants, including three UK spaceports.

Last week was one of the busiest weeks for licensing with 18 new space activities licenced by the UK Civil Aviation Authority, marking an exciting new wave of UK satellites to be launched in the near future. The UK Civil Aviation Authority expects to hit 350 within the next week.

As part of the space regulator’s role, it is also funding medical studies into the effects of commercial suborbital space flights, alongside the Royal Air Force and King’s College London.

On a visit to see Scotland’s space sector, the regulator’s Joint-Interim Chief Executives Paul Smith and Rob Bishton met with key figures from Skyrora.

The pair saw first-hand the work being undertaken by a Glasgow-based space rocket manufacturer, which has developed its own eco-friendly fuel, Ecosene, made of waste plastics.

The visit comes as the UK Civil Aviation Authority continues to engage with Skyrora ahead of its application for a UK launch licence. The space regulator will be involved in licensing all aspects of the first orbital launch from Scotland.

According to the Scottish Government, it is estimated that Scotland’s space sector could generate £4 billion for the Scottish economy by 2030, as well as creating 20,000 jobs in the sector.

As well as its emerging launch capabilities, Scotland has strong roots in satellite manufacturing, data and ground-breaking research.

Rob Bishton, Joint-Interim Chief Executive of the UK Civil Aviation Authority said:

“With more than 340 licences granted across all aspects of space since July 2021, we’re continuing to play our role in enabling the space sector to grow and our engagement with industry is a key part of that.

“We are working constantly with industry to review and improve our processes to make sure the UK space sector is safe, sustainable, and successful. As the UK’s space regulator, it is our role to enable and support the sector so it can become world-leading.

“The UK space sector is thriving, and Scotland is poised to be right at the heart of the UK’s future space ambitions. Scottish engineers and scientists will help drive the technology and innovation needed to help put the UK on the map in the burgeoning space sector.”

Contact Information

Robert Crawford

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.