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Spaceflight: Licensing

Question for Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

UIN 20439, tabled on 22 June 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if his department will amend Section 36 of the Space Industry Act in line with the Government’s stated intent so that space launch and satellite operations licenses will contain a limit of liability.

Answered on

29 June 2021

The Government will limit launch liability limits using the Modelled Insurance Requirement (MIR) approach. This will tailor the level of insurance required and the 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.

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

It is the Government's intention that all operator licences issued under the Space Industry Act 2018 will contain a limit of operator liability with respect to claims under section 34 and 36 of the Space Industry Act. The Government does not intend to make changes to the primary legislation around liabilities and insurance in the Space Industry Act (2018) at this time, as the regulations and guidance laid before Parliament on 24th May 2021 contain the necessary provisions to enable implementation of the Government policy that all operator licences will contain a limit of liability.

However, the Government outlined in its response to the consultation on the draft Space Industry Regulations issued on 5th March 2021 that if suitable primary legislation is brought forward, the Government may seek to amend the wording in section 12(2) of the Space Industry Act 2018 from "may" to "must".

The Government is committed to supporting the space sector and we have outlined our intention to establish a committee involving industry and the spaceflight regulator; this will keep the regulations under review and ensure that the Government’s approach to commercial spaceflight remains current, relevant, and effective.