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Spaceflight: Licensing

Question for Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

UIN 20438, tabled on 22 June 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merit of a limit on the indemnity and liability required by UK space launch and satellite operations licensees.

Answered on

29 June 2021

The Government conducted a call for evidence in March 2018. The evidence gained through this exercise and through further independent research commissioned by the Government has led Ministers to conclude that limits of liability are justified. The Government intends to calculate launch liability limits using the Modelled Insurance Requirement (MIR) approach. This will tailor the amount of insurance required and limit of operator liability to the risk and the diverse range of UK launch activities today and anticipated in the future and reduce operator costs in general compared with a fixed limit.

The Government does not yet have the information to determine whether a maximum limit on the insurance requirement and limit of operator liability for the amount calculated under the MIR for launch is justified as licence applications have not yet been received. It is the Government’s intention to establish a committee involving industry and the spaceflight regulator to keep the regulations under review and ensure that they remain current, relevant, and effective.

For orbital operations, the limits of operator liability for licences under the Space Industry Act will mirror those for licences issued under the Outer Space Act 1986.

  • For standard missions, the limit will be set at €60 million.
  • For high risk missions the limit will be set on a case-by case basis, following an appropriate risk assessment.