SaxaVord Gains Range Control Licence

25th Apr 2024
SaxaVord Gains Range Control Licence

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has granted SaxaVord SpacePort its Range Control Licence. SaxaVord announced on 25th April that the licence, which is the first in the UK for a vertical launch company, which follows from its receiving a spaceport licence in December 2023.

What the SaxaVord Range Licence does and does not permit

The range licence is important because it enables SaxaVord to ensure the safety of people and objects (especially vehicles) in any required downrange zone. For example, SaxaVord can now issue warning notices to keep people out of hazardous areas, perform surveillance of those areas, and monitor the progress of rockets in flight. The size of that zone will vary with the vehicle being launched.

Work continues at CAA to process SaxaVord’s launch operations license. The Range licence still does not grant the permission to launch, and any rockets to be launched will also need their own certificates.

Colin Macleod, Head of UK Space Regulation at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said:“SaxaVord’s range licence is vital to protecting public safety during launches.“Our work is enabling the UK’s expanding space sector and encouraging safety, sustainability and security of space activity.”

Frank Strang, CEO of SaxaVord Spaceport, said:“We are delighted to have been granted our range licence by the Civil Aviation Authority and had it approved by the Secretary of State for Transport, following on from our spaceport licence in December last year.  “Both awards are historic milestones for ourselves in Shetland and the development of the UK space sector in its entirety. This is a vital component in our preparations for launch. Satisfying such a crucial piece of the regulatory process affords everyone the comfort that we will always operate in a safe and proper manner under the watchful eye of the regulator. “As Western Europe’s only fully licenced vertical launch spaceport, we are now preparing to make more space history with the beginning of orbital launch operations well underway and first launch expected to be in Q3 of this year.”

The licence is the 361st issued by the CAA enabling the UK space sector to grow. Space employs some 50,000 people across the country.

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