Spaceport Cornwall has received the UK’s first ever spaceport licence – moving the country’s first orbital space launch one step closer.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority issued the licence after Spaceport Cornwall, based at Cornwall Airport Newquay, demonstrated to the regulator it had 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.

150 satellite licences

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.

Richard Moriarty, chief executive of the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “This is an historic moment as we licence the first ever spaceport in the UK.

“We’re proud to be playing our part in facilitating the UK’s space ambitions through assessing the safety, security and other requirements of these activities. This is another major milestone to enable this country to become a leading launch nation.

“When we became the space regulator, we committed to delivering in an open, effective and proportionate way, with public safety at its heart.

“Our work does not stop with this licence decision as we continue to assess other licence applications and oversee the effectiveness of licenced activities, all enabling the UK’s space sector to grow safely and securely.”

‘Historic moment’

Melissa Thorpe, head of Spaceport Cornwall, said: “To be the first Spaceport in the UK with a licence to operate is a historic moment. The regulatory environment created by the Civil Aviation Authority ensures that UK launch will set the global bar in terms of responsibility and transparency.

“Cornwall is now ready to open up the use of Space for Good, and support the UK industry in harnessing the power of space to benefit life on Earth.”

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.
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