The UK Space Agency has put forward new proposals regarding liability limits and insurance for satellite operators following a review of the country’s approach to setting liability amounts in licences for orbital operations. The proposals aim to implement a variable approach for determining liability limits based on the mission, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. The current flat-rate liability amount of €60 million would be replaced.
The consultation also seeks input on refunding licence fees for companies that commit to sustainable practices, reflecting the importance of ensuring a safe and secure space for present and future generations. The government intends to implement a similar focus on space sustainability when determining licence application fees for orbital operations.
Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, highlighted that the proposed changes will reduce risks associated with satellite operations, promote safety and sustainability, decrease insurance and regulatory costs for operators, and attract investment into the UK space sector.
Under the UK regulatory regime, each satellite operator’s licence includes a designated liability amount that covers costs arising from incidents involving their satellite. Operators are required to have insurance to meet their obligations in indemnifying claims made by third parties.
The consultation will also inform government policy on long-term space sustainability. One of the key proposals is the development of a space sustainability roadmap that extends to 2050 and beyond. The UK government is supporting the Earth & Space Sustainability Initiative (ESSI), an industry-led initiative that aims to establish global Space Sustainability Standards recognized by the finance and insurance communities and policy makers worldwide.
The consultation presents measures to potentially reduce the regulatory cost-burden on the industry. It assesses alternative ways to insure an operator’s third-party liability requirements for orbital operations, including a proposal for a sector-led mutual from the Satellite Financing Network.
After the consultation period, the government will issue a response reflecting the feedback received and will implement the recommendations as soon as possible.
The consultation is open for 12 weeks.