Spaceport Cornwall attains first-ever UK spaceport licence


Spaceport Cornwall received the UK’s first ever spaceport licence, bringing the country’s first orbital space launch one step closer.

The UK CAA issued the licence, following consent from UK Transport Secretary Mark Harper. Spaceport Cornwall, based at Cornwall Airport, Newquay, met the safety, security and environment aspects required to operate a UK spaceport.

This latest licence adds to nearly 150 satellite licences already approved by the CAA since becoming the UK’s space regulator in July last year. 

Richard Moriarty, chief executive, UK CAA, called it a historic moment. “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 licensed activities, all enabling the UK’s space sector to grow safely and securely,” he said.

The UK space industry is estimated to be worth £16.5bn and supports 47,000 jobs, with 2,500 apprentices.

Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, added: “The cosmic cornerstone is being laid for the UK’s first orbital space launch, with the UK Civil Aviation Authority granting Spaceport Cornwall the first ever spaceport licence.”

The CAA’s licence for Spaceport Cornwall follows months of working closely with government and other organisations including the Marine Management Organisation, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Health and Safety Executive, according to Melissa Thorpe, Head of Spaceport Cornwall.

“The CAA 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,” said Thorpe.