Space Industry Bill [HL]

Explanatory Notes

Policy background

3 This measure is part of a wider Government programme to stimulate the market for space activities (primarily small satellite launch) and sub-orbital spaceflight activities in the United Kingdom from 2020.

4 The Bill provides for the regulation and licensing of space activities and sub-orbital activities (together referred to as "spaceflight activities"); and any associated activities, including but not limited to the operation of spaceports, mission management facilities and range control functions and sites in the United Kingdom.

5 The Bill prohibits the carrying on of spaceflight and specified associated activities without a licence and breach of this prohibition will be an offence. The Secretary of State is the regulatory authority and has a duty to secure public safety in carrying out his or her functions under the Bill.

6 There are powers to enable the Civil Aviation Authority ("the CAA") or other persons to carry out functions on behalf of the Secretary of State. Applicants for licences will also be required to meet any requirements set out in secondary legislation made under this Bill.

7 The OSA will remain in force, but will be amended so that it will only cover space activities overseas. A number of the provisions in this Bill will mirror those found in OSA, as this Bill will implement United Kingdom obligations under the UN Space Treaties, insofar as those obligations arise in relation any space activities carried on in the United Kingdom.

8 Commercial spaceflight is an innovative, highly technical and fast-changing area for which highly bespoke technologies are being developed. As such, the Bill provides a framework for the development of more detailed rules in secondary legislation, supplemented by guidance. In addition, spaceflight activities will be carried out in accordance with licences, which may contain a wide range of conditions.


9 Since 2013, a cross-Government programme of work has been pursued encompassing three broad strands:

Understanding from a regulatory perspective what needs to be put in place to enable safe commercial spaceflight in the United Kingdom;

Identifying potential locations from which commercial spaceflight operations could be safely launched in the United Kingdom and identifying the infrastructure and facilities that would be required;

Identifying options and approaches to attract potential commercial spaceflight operators to the United Kingdom.

10 A key milestone in this work was the publication of the 2014 UK Government Review of Commercial Spaceplane Certification and Operations ("the Spaceplane Review") 1 . Subsequently, between 15 July and 6 October 2014, the Government consulted 2 on key operational, safety, meteorological, environmental and economic criteria which the Civil Aviation Authority and United Kingdom Space Agency had identified, to be taken into consideration when considering applications for spaceports in the UK.

11 The Spaceplane Review and subsequent Government consultation focused primarily on enabling the United Kingdom to become an early adopter of emerging horizontally launched sub-orbital "spaceplane" 3 technologies. However, some respondents advocated the development of a vertical launch capability. The scope of this Bill covers both horizontal and vertical launch technologies.

12 As a part of the preparation of the Bill, an industry stakeholder workshop was held on 6 September 2016. The objective of the workshop was to:

test current assumptions regarding policy development;

identify and understand stakeholder concerns in relation to United Kingdom launch;

identify potential gaps and challenges to thinking;

ensure that key stakeholders are engaged with development of policy;

communicate next steps;

share the current timeline in relation to primary and secondary legislation; and

assist the development of policy for the Bill.

13 The stakeholder workshop supported the Government’s approach to the development of the Bill. 4

14 On 21 February 2017, a draft Spaceflight Bill was published for pre-legislative consultation. On 2 March, the Commons Science and Technology Committee launched an Inquiry to examine the Bill and heard evidence from industry and Government over two sessions on 27 March and 19 April. In addition, they received a report on the Bill from the Lords Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee. Their report was published on 29 April 2017 and the Government responded to this report on 22 June 2017. The Space Industry Bill is based on this earlier draft Bill.


Prepared 27th June 2017