SaxaVord Spaceport has been granted a range control licence by the UK Civil Aviation Authority to enable the company to provide a number of safety critical services before and during launch.

The regulator’s latest licence for SaxaVord means it can issue warning notices to keep people out of hazardous areas, perform surveillance of those areas, and monitor the progress of rockets in flight.

The announcement follows the granting of a spaceport licence by the Civil Aviation Authority to SaxaVord in December 2023.

The licence is the 361st issued by the space regulator enabling the UK space sector to grow, employing 50,000 people across the country.

A range licence is a legal requirement ahead of a space launch, but is not in itself permission to launch.

This licence grants the broad approval to provide ‘range control services.’ Specifics will depend on the launch vehicle and will be outlined as part of relevant launch licences.

Work by the Civil Aviation Authority continues in assessing potential launch operators from SaxaVord.

Colin Macleod, Head of UK Space Regulation at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “SaxaVord’s range licence is vital to protecting public safety during launches.

“Our work is enabling the UK’s expanding space sector and encouraging safety, sustainability and security of space activity.”

Frank Strang, CEO of SaxaVord Spaceport, said: “We are delighted to have been granted our range licence by the Civil Aviation Authority and had it approved by the Secretary of State for Transport, following on from our spaceport licence in December last year.

“Both awards are historic milestones for ourselves in Shetland and the development of the UK space sector in its entirety. This is a vital component in our preparations for launch. Satisfying such a crucial piece of the regulatory process affords everyone the comfort that we will always operate in a safe and proper manner under the watchful eye of the regulator.

“As Western Europe’s only fully licenced vertical launch spaceport, we are now preparing to make more space history with the beginning of orbital launch operations well underway and first launch expected to be in Q3 of this year.”

The Civil Aviation Authority has issued SaxaVord’s licences well ahead of any potential UK launches, and launch operators are currently undergoing assessment. The granting of SaxaVord’s spaceport licence made it the UK’s first licensed vertical launch spaceport.

Operations at SaxaVord are now being monitored by the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure they are meeting the terms of their licence and public safety is protected.
Subscribe to the FINN weekly newsletter

You may also be interested in

ClearSpace-1 mission changes after space debris collision

NASA announces 30th Human Exploration Rover Challenge winner

Giant galactic explosion exposes galaxy pollution in action