National regulators globally are having to consider the licensing criteria to impose on launch and satellite operators as more regulators are approached to license satellites and, in particular, large constellations.
Regulators must balance issues such as government risk, safety, security and the sustainable use and access to space; against the encouragement of commercialisation, innovation and growth.
It is well documented that an effective, proportionate regulatory framework is an enabler for raising investment. As part of such framework, regulators must assess how best to establish the financial standing of licence applicants and what insurance requirements to impose.
Under international law, the regulating government will bear international liability for damage caused by a licensed satellite. A national regulator will, therefore, normally wish to pass some (if not all) of that liability to the satellite operator responsible for satellite operations. Some of this liability can be met by the effective use of insurance cover.
When assessing space activities licence applications, regulators, and in particular the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as the new UK regulator, will seek to establish whether a satellite operator can meet its liability obligations pursuant to licensing requirements and what financial considerations and insurance requirements a national regulator could seek to have in place to ensure this, before a constellation licence is granted.
This issue is particularly pertinent as more commercial constellation operators look to ‘forum shop’ for the most efficient licensing regime and the issue of the sustainability and good governance of constellations is more pressing than ever.Air and Space Law