The Space Industry Act 2018 (SIA) and Space Industry Regulations 2021 (SIR) allow for the licensing and regulation of a wide range of commercial spaceflight activities, including the provision of spaceports. The Act and the Regulations set out general requirements for all licence holders and contain specific requirements for the operation of a spaceport.
To operate a spaceport, you must apply to the CAA for a spaceport licence. We recommend you read CAP2212 before making your application.
The information you must provide when applying for a spaceport operator licence is set out in Table A and E of the Regulator's Licensing Rules.
The basic prerequisites for obtaining a launch operator licence include the CAA being satisfied that:
- the applicant meets criteria regarding eligibility, financial and technical resources and is otherwise a fit and proper person
- the licensed activity will not impair the national security of the UK, is consistent with the UK’s international obligations and is not contrary to the national interest
- the applicant has assigned persons to certain prescribed roles.
- the applicant meets prescribed criteria as to location (for horizontal spaceports)
- the applicant completes a safety case that complies with the requirements of SIR Regulation 36
- the applicant demonstrates that it will be able, where the safety case demonstrates that it is required, to put in place an appropriate safety clear zone
- the applicant has conducted a siting assessment
Other requirements at the application stage for a spaceport licence include:
- an assessment of the environmental effects (AEE) from the spaceport
- a space site security programme and cyber strategy based on a security risk assessment
Once you have submitted your application to us, we will meet and liaise with you as necessary. We may also request additional information and inspect sites, facilities, equipment, spacecraft, carrier aircraft and other vehicles to be used by you, as required to determine whether a licence can be granted. If it is determined that a licence can be granted, and the Secretary of State has given his consent, we will inform you and send a copy of your licence including any conditions. While your spaceport licence remains valid, you must keep your safety case up to date, submit mandatory occurrence reports when needed and cooperate with our ongoing monitoring and oversight activity, including site visits and attendance at various pre-and-post launch reviews.
Once licensed, you must meet ongoing safety requirements, such as producing a spaceport manual and maintaining an emergency response plan. While you may not have fully developed these at point of application, we recommend you familiarise yourself with these as soon as possible.
While your spaceport licence remains valid, you must keep your safety case up to date, submit mandatory occurrence reports when needed and notify us of any material changes which may impact how you carry out licensed activities (such as changes to person carrying out prescribed roles, financial difficulties, etc).
You must also cooperate with our ongoing monitoring and oversight activity, including site visits and attendance at various pre and post launch reviews.
In addition to the licence you need to carry out spaceflight activities, you may also need to apply for an airspace change. The integration of a launch into the airspace structure is achieved through the CAA’s airspace change process, known as CAP1616. This process is run by the CAA’s Airspace Regulation department and a completely separate team to the UK Space Regulator.
The CAP1616 process can be used to create a temporary change to cover a one-off event, or to create a permanent change - to enable the establishment of a spaceport, for example.
Permanent airspace changes can take longer than the licensing of spaceflight activities and it is your responsibility to discuss your proposals and apply for change with the airspace team. Further information and details of how to apply for an airspace change can be found on our Airspace Change page.
Further guidance can be found in the guidance & resources section
Provide page feedback
Please enter your comments below, or use our usual service contacts if a specific matter requires an answer.
Fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required.