Client stories

Lift-off for Spaceport Cornwall

Find out how we helped this internationally significant project located at Cornwall Airport in Newquay, that has its first space launch planned for 2022.

Clearing a route for the UK's first horizontal space launch

Spaceport Cornwall is a consortium made up of The Cornwall Council, Virgin Orbit UK Ltd. and Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd., set up to deliver the UK’s first horizontal launch.

Working closely alongside Spaceport Cornwall’s other professional advisers, Foot Anstey became a key member of the mission team.

Satellite dishes in the UK

The mission

To prepare for launch, Spaceport Cornwall required specialist legal support and advice to ensure compliance with the relevant legislation and regulatory frameworks. This had to include the new Space Industry Act 2018, planning regulations, environmental regulations, safety regulations and local authority legal requirements.

To deliver the wide-ranging expertise and service required, we joined forces with a leading boutique space and satellite law firm to combine their niche space and satellite sector expertise with our projects, infrastructure, procurement, safety, environmental and local authority expertise.

The first step was to produce a detailed report providing legal advice and guidance on the route to launch. Preparing this was a challenging objective, given that the Space Industry Act regulations had not been released for consultation.

Our crew

Our multi-disciplinary team included John Catchpole advising on land powers and security, environmental and planning expert Christian Silk and safety legal expert Tim Williamson. They were also supported by Fergus Baker advising on corporate governance and James Falle advising on procurement and state aid.

Drawing on expertise - The solution

To anticipate what the regulations may contain and how Spaceport Cornwall should proceed, the team called upon our experience and understanding of the sector. We knew that safety is at the very heart of the Space Industry Act, and from our knowledge and discussions with UKSA representatives we knew that the regulatory framework would be similar to that employed by the Health and Safety Executive in other sectors, such as nuclear.

Our team also factored in the approach taken by the Space Industry Act in a number of cases, to build upon existing regulatory frameworks to ensure that they can be properly applied to launch activities.

What we said

"We are privileged and excited to support Spaceport Cornwall and their partners to deliver the first ever launch of a spacecraft from UK soil into orbit this summer. This first launch presents a huge milestone for the UK space sector as part of the development of the wider commercial space industry."

John Catchpole Legal Director

Clearing the launchpad - The results

Working closely with the Spaceport Cornwall team and our partners, we successfully delivered an integrated and detailed report, setting out the steps and actions that Spaceport Cornwall would need to navigate on its path to launch.

We received strong feedback from Space Industry Act specialists that our report represented a good overview of the legal and regulatory considerations associated with launch in the UK, putting Spaceport Cornwall in a good standing for next steps. Miles Carden, Director of Spaceport Cornwall at the time said that this feedback was a ringing endorsement of the quality of the work.