The UK Civil Aviation Authority (UK CAA) became the country’s space regulator, starting from July 29, 2021. 

The authority will be licensing the various UK and international companies that want to operate under a UK space license. 

Space companies range from those specializing in commercial spaceflight technologies, satellite construction and operations, traditional vertically launched vehicles, air-launched vehicles, and balloons as well as spaceports, to range service providers. 

They can apply using a new digital application system. The estimated time for the delivery of a launch license is between 9-18 months depending on complexity and the quality of preparations by license applicants.  

The UK CAA expects the first launch license will be granted in 2022. The UK government is aiming to launch Europe’s first orbital rocket for satellites in the same year. 

“For the last eighteen months we have been preparing to become the regulator,” Colin Macleod, Head of UK Space Regulation at the UK CAA is cited in the regulator’s statement. “We have built an experienced team working across policy, engineering and licensing, in the space sector. We have developed and tested the processes and systems we need to ensure the licensing regime works. And we have been working with the wider space industry to explain what the regulations mean, how the new framework will work, and how they apply. This means space companies can apply for a license as soon as they are ready.”

“The UK already has a leading satellite industry and can capitalize on further growth within the space sector,” Richard Moriarty, Chief Executive at the UK CAA said. “The regulatory framework that the Government is putting in place allows for innovation and new technology underpinned by high standards of safety and security. Space will be embedded within the CAA’s wider ecosystem, drawing on, and contributing to, wider experience and expertise across the organization. We will be an open, effective and proportionate regulator.”