Spaceport Licence for Cornwall a Historic First

16th Nov 2022
Spaceport Licence  for Cornwall a Historic First

The UK has taken a massive leap closer to a historic launch, as Spaceport Cornwall receives the first-ever spaceport licence in the country. The UK government announced the news on on 16th November.

The spaceport licence was granted by the UK Civil Aviation Authority, following consent from Mark Harper, the Transport Secretary. This means he agrees with the licensing decisions the Civil Aviation Authority has made.

Chief Executive of the UK Civil Aviation Authority, Richard Moriarty, said:

“This is a historic moment as we licence the first-ever spaceport in the UK. 

“We’re proud to be playing our part in facilitating the UK’s space ambitions through assessing the safety, security, and other requirements of these activities. 

“This is another major milestone to enable this country to become a leading launch nation.”

Spaceport licence more than a piece of paper

The spaceport, located in Cornwall Airport Newquay, proved a variety of important points. The operators showed the regulator that it meets the appropriate environment, security, and safety requirements to run a UK spaceport. 

This approval also means that Spaceport Cornwall has the services, equipment, and infrastructure needed for horizontal space launches. 

Head of Spaceport Cornwall, Melissa Thorpe, said:

“To be the first Spaceport in the UK with a licence to operate is a historic moment. The regulatory environment created by the Civil Aviation Authority ensures that UK launch will set the global bar in terms of responsibility and transparency.

“Cornwall is now ready to open up the use of Space for Good, and support the UK industry in harnessing the power of space to benefit life on Earth.”

‘Wet dress’ rehearsals to commence 

Now that Spaceport Cornwall has its licence, Virgin Orbit can start ‘wet dress’ rehearsals ahead of the proposed launch. 

A ‘cosmic cornerstone’ ahead of the first orbital space launch

Transport Secretary Mark Harper described the moment as a ‘cosmic cornerstone’ for the first orbital space launch. 

He added:

“Virgin Orbit’s planned launch reinforces our position as a leading space nation as we look to the future of spaceflight, which can spur growth and innovation across the sector, as well as creating thousands of jobs and apprenticeships.”

Each spaceport licence application under scrutiny

Richard Moriarty has reassured everyone that the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s work is not done. He said that they are committed to delivering in a proportionate, effective, and open way, with public safety at the centre. 

The UK Civil Aviation Authority will keep evaluating other licence applications and oversee the effectiveness of licenced activities, which all enable the UK’s space sector to grow securely and safely. 

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