Spaceport Cornwall receives first-ever UK spaceport licence

The UK’s first orbital space launch moved one step closer to take-off as Spaceport Cornwall received the UK’s first ever spaceport licence, says the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) press release. The CAA issued the licence, following consent from Transport Secretary Mark Harper, meaning he is in agreement with the licensing decisions made by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

Spaceport Cornwall, based at Cornwall Airport Newquay, has demonstrated to the regulator it has met the appropriate safety, security, environment and other aspects to operate a UK spaceport. The approval also means Spaceport Cornwall has the infrastructure, equipment and services for horizontal space launches.

This latest licence adds to nearly 150 satellite licences already approved by the UK Civil Aviation Authority since becoming the UK’s space regulator in July 2021.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority’s licence for Spaceport Cornwall follows months of working closely with government and other organisations including the Marine Management Organisation, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Health and Safety Executive.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority continues to work on several licence applications, including being in very advanced stages with Virgin Orbit on its applications for launch and range licences, as well as the satellite operators, ahead of a proposed first UK launch.

The regulator is also progressing applications from a range of other spaceports and operators, and recently started a consultation on the environmental effects of a proposed SaxaVord launch in Scotland.

The growing space industry will boost innovation and is estimated to be worth GPB16.5 billion and support 47,000 jobs, with 2,500 apprentices opening the sector up to even more people.

Dan Hart, Chief Executive of Virgin Orbit, said: “Obtaining this license marks a point of distinction for Spaceport Cornwall, and is a key preparatory milestone for this first orbital launch from the UK. “We appreciate the efforts of the British regulatory agencies with the support of the US Federal Aviation Administration in this first-time licensing process, as we strive in our respective roles to ensure a safe and successful mission in the coming weeks.”

Ian Annett, Deputy Chief Executive at the UK Space Agency, said: “The first ever spaceport licence granted by the UK Civil Aviation Authority is another major milestone as we look forward to the first satellite launch from UK soil this year. Getting to this stage is a testament to the hard work from partners across government and industry to make our launch ambitions a reality and we are now tantalisingly close.”

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