U.K. Agrees to Liability Cap for Satellite Operators

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PARIS — The British government has agreed to limit the liability of U.K.-licensed satellite operators in an attempt to encourage growth in Britain’s commercial space sector.

Effective Oct. 1, the U.K. Outer Space Act will cap operator liability at 60 million euros ($66 million), putting the U.K. in line with other spacefaring nations. The cap will be granted only after a risk analysis is performed for each new license application and may be higher for higher-risk missions.

However, “it is anticipated that, in the majority of cases, which involve single satellite missions employing established launchers, satellite platforms and operational profiles, the cap will be set at 60 million euros,” the U.K. Space Agency said in a policy summary posted on its website.

Existing licensees must formally request the U.K. Space Agency apply the cap to their licenses. For the moment, licensees in British dependencies and overseas territories are not eligible to apply. This may change in the future, the U.K. Space Agency said in its policy summary.

The new policy does not change current U.K. requirements for operators to purchase 60 million euros of third-party liability insurance, “although this figure is set to be reviewed for certain classes of satellite.”

Changes to Britain’s space regulatory regime, including its licensing, have been part of the government’s overall review of space strategy following consultations with industry.