• Pre-application

    Traffic Light Assessment

    The Traffic Light System (TLS) is an optional and free-of-charge pre-application stage which aims to help prospective applicants for an orbital operator licence determine their readiness to submit an application and to prepare for the ensuing application process.

    The TLS assessment is based on a small subset of information and will provide the prospective applicant with a non-binding Red/Amber/Green rating, which provides an initial estimate on the likelihood of the proposed operations presenting an acceptable level of risk. 

    The TLS rating is non-binding and does not guarantee that a licence will be granted upon submission of a formal application.

    The purpose of the TLS is:

    • to help less experienced operators understand the need for safety, security, and sustainability, as reflected in the UK’s licensing proces
    • to advise operators of the likelihood of application success before they submit a full application, and, where possible, to advise them on what modifications would be required to bring their proposed mission in line with the licensing requirements

    The ratings indicate three likely, but non-binding, outcomes of the application:

    • Green: answers provided indicate that the mission poses an apparently acceptable level of risk: it is likely, but not guaranteed, that the licence application will be successful
    • Amber: more information is needed to understand the mission risks and/or modifications to the mission would be required before this mission can be rated as ‘Green
    • Red: answers provided indicate that the mission poses an apparently unacceptable level of risk: The Licensing team would advise the operator not to apply with the current proposal and to reconsider its mission plans

    Prospective applicants are not obliged to use the Traffic Light System and can submit an application for an orbital operator licence without having first received a Traffic Light rating. However, we recommend that new operators, and all operators hoping to launch novel types of missions, make use of the Traffic Light System.

  • How to apply for a licence

    Persons or companies intending to carry out one or more of the following activities in outer space must apply to the CAA for a UK licence under the OSA and/or the SIA:

    • procuring the launch of a space object into outer space;
    • operating a space object in outer space; and
    • carrying out any other activity in outer space 

    Persons or companies acting as an employee or agent of another organisation do not need to apply for a licence where the organisation on whose behalf they are acting has already received the relevant authorisations to carry out activities in outer space.

    The regime under which an application must be submitted will depend upon the geographic location from which the activities are being carried out and the nationality of the entity carrying out the activity.

    Space activites carried out… … in the United Kingdom … Overseas
    … by UK Nationals SIA 2018* OSA 1986
    … by Foreign Parties SIA 2018 N/A

    *Space Activities carried out by UK nationals in the UK will previously been licensed under the Outer Space Act 1986.

    • Persons or companies intending to carry out such activities from within the UK will need to apply under the Space Industry Act 2018.
    • UK nationals intending to carry out such activities from outside the UK will need to apply under the Outer Space Act 1986 Act (as amended by the Deregulation Act 2015).
    • Where multiple activities are being proposed and fall under different regimes (for example, a UK national procuring an overseas launch (OSA) of a satellite to be operated from the UK (SIA)), a single application can be submitted, covering all activities falling under both Acts.

    In all cases, applicants should use the standardised application form for Orbital Operator Licences

    We recognise the broad diversity of activities in outer space and adopts a flexible approach to licensing. We encourage potential applicants to get in touch as early as possible to discuss the best way forward for their proposals. 

    New applicants or applicants with novel mission proposals may wish to consider using the optional pre-engagement Traffic Light System, which will provide an initial, non-binding, Regulator view on the risk levels associated with the mission.

    Please read the Guidance for orbital operator licence applicants and licensees, ‘OSA Guidance for Applicants’ and/or ‘SIA Guidance for Applicants’ document(s) carefully before submitting an application.

    Apply for an orbital operator licence