OneWeb’s upcoming launch will see 36 more UK-licensed OneWeb satellites put into orbit as the major constellation’s launch programme is completed.
This will bring the grand total UK Civil Aviation Authority licenses for OneWeb alone to 298.
The mission highlights the long term, effective collaboration between OneWeb and the UK Civil Aviation Authority in its role as space regulator.
This has seen the licensing and launch one of the World’s largest satellite constellations putting the UK space industry in the leading pack of the satellite space race.
Experts in the Civil Aviation Authority’s space regulation team have worked with OneWeb since its first launch in 2019 (when UK space regulation sat within UKSA). This long-term relationship has been healthy and productive.
The licensing process for each batch launch of up to 40 OneWeb satellites often takes as little as six months for each full application thanks to our work to see continuous improvement of the regulatory process through feedback from operators like OneWeb.
Tim Johnson, Director of Space Regulation at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said:
“Completion of the OneWeb constellation is not only a major achievement for the UK space industry, it also marks a major milestone for UK space regulation.
“We have worked effectively with OneWeb ever since becoming the UK’s space regulator, licensing 298 of their satellites, which are now providing global satellite internet access from orbit.
“This work over the years plays a key role in making the second biggest satellite constellation in the world is safe, sustainable and successful.”
OneWeb has offered a regulatory challenge given the scale of its operation, and ongoing monitoring, as its 620 UK-licensed satellites need to not only operate safely but also be sustainable for the long-term future of all space activities.
This is a major issue for space activity globally and OneWeb has offered the opportunity for UK regulations to be tested, including Civil Aviation Authority approval for OneWeb to actively deorbit two of their licensed satellites. Plans must be in place for each individual satellite for the end of its life, making sure that UK space operations do not leave a legacy of disused satellites that will increase risks for future missions.
Notes for editors
- Before June 2021 space regulation sat within the UK Space Agency. UKSA worked with OneWeb since before their first launch – the first applications were received in 2017 and assessments began in early 2018. Staff and expertise from the UKSA’s space regulation team then transferred to the Civil Aviation Authority when the responsibilities moved over.
- The regulatory framework for satellites is set out by Parliament in the Space Industry Act 2018 and the Outer Space Act 1986.