This Bill provides for the creation of a regulatory framework to enable commercial spaceflight activities, including the launch of satellites into orbit, to be carried out from spaceports in the UK.
Commercial spaceflight is a rapidly growing and evolving sector, and this Bill is the Government’s attempt to stimulate growth in the UK space industry. The Bill lays out the legal framework for the safety, licensing and liabilities of space activities including satellite launches and sub-orbital commercial space flights.
The Government has said that the Bill, which was outlined in the Queen’s Speech, is “a clear signal of the UK’s commitment to enabling commercial spaceflight from UK spaceports, and a key part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy to ensure the UK businesses capture a share of this emerging global market”.
The main aspects of the Bill are:
- new powers to license a wide range of spaceflight activities, including vertically-launched rockets, spaceplanes, satellite operation, spaceports and other technologies;
- a comprehensive and proportionate regulatory framework to manage risk, ensuring that commercial spaceflight in the UK remains safe measures to regulate unauthorised access and interference with spacecraft, spaceports and associated infrastructure, drawing on the UK’s extensive expertise – particularly in aviation security;
- measures to promote public safety by providing a regulatory framework to cover operational insurance, indemnity and liability.
The Bill will also make the UK less reliant on foreign spaceports to further its commercial stake in the global space industry.
This Bill was introduced by Lord Callanan at the Department for Transport.
There has been some concern in the space industry at the Government’s decision to drop a cap introduced in 2015 that limited operator’s liability for damage from their activities to €60m per satellite for standard launches. This Bill reserves the option to cap liability on a case-by-case basis when granting operator licences, to reflect the development of new and innovative technology. However, it does not guarantee that such a limit will be set, saying only that a licence “may” include a limit.
Richard Peckham, chairman of UKSpace, the industry trade body said: “it is great for the sector that the Government has found parliamentary time for us. The bill will enable space flight,” he said. “But if you cannot buy insurance, you cannot launch. That makes the UK less attractive than other nations.”
How to get involved
Contact your MP
If I don’t act, will it go through?
This is a Government Bill. Traditionally Government Bills almost always become law, but under a hung parliament that is less certain.