340 CAA Licences Issued Since 2021

1st Jun 2023
340 CAA Licences Issued Since 2021

The UK space regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, or CAA, is licencing record numbers of companies. Since the authority became responsible for the space sector in 2021, more than 340 CAA licences have been issued.

According to CAA, they have a vested interest in all British space operations, and by granting more licences, established and emerging UK based space companies will have the ability to flourish. Such interests include satellite and launch technology that is expected to generate billions of pounds for the UK economy.

Other interests include medical research, with CAA funding a study on the health effects of commercial suborbital space flights in collaboration with the Royal Air Force and King’s College London. Furthermore, the space industry is increasingly important for the UK’s telecommunication and security interests, and CAA monitoring over 750 British satellites that are currently in Earth orbit. As the industry continues to gather momentum, the authority are to ensure that the UK becomes a global leader in space exploration and space technology delivery.

The 343 Licences With 25 Incoming

Besides the 343 CAA licences issued thus far, another 25 applications in the pipeline could be approved in the very near future. In a press release, CAA’s Joint-Interim Chief Executive, Rob Bishton, said: “With more than 340 licences granted across all aspects of space since July 2021, we’re continuing to play our role in enabling the space sector to grow and our engagement with industry is a key part of that.” These applications highlight that further growth is expected with more manufacturing, services, and launch companies looking to establish their position in the UK.

Issuing The First UK Spaceport And Launch Licences 

In a move to attract space launches from UK soil, CAA granted approval for the first UK spaceport and launch licences in 2022. While the first launch licence went to now-defunct Virgin Orbit, Spaceport Cornwall’s spaceport licence had no limitations regarding launch partners and others such as the American Sierra Nevada are preparing to use the site’s facilities.

CAA have noted that three of the 25 applications are from companies looking to build UK spaceports such as SaxaVord in the Shetland Islands. Scottish based space businesses such as Edinburgh based Skyrora are also looking for launch licences. 

CAA licences for Scottish companies in focus

Skyrora rocket image
Skyrora has become an industry leader in the UK space industry: Credit – Skyrora

CAA recently visited Scotland, with the regulator’s Joint-Interim Chief Executives Paul Smith and Rob Bishton meeting with key figures from Skyrora. The company, which applied for a launch licence in August 2022, have asked that the authority to issue the licence this summer in order to expedite their initial launches from SaxaVord. Skyrora have also stated they are aiming to reduce the cost of space travel and have notably engineered their own eco-friendly fuel, Ecosene, which is made of recycled waste plastics. 

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