The space sector is one of the most exciting growth areas for UK industry but it is also subject to complex and rapidly developing regulatory requirements and unique commercial challenges.

We have extensive experience advising on complex space projects including satellite and wider space system and equipment supply, the establishment and delivery of UK spaceports, service delivery and operations outsourcing, integration with legacy systems, project financing and military/security issues, with our experience spanning commercial and public sector projects and both civil and military domains. We remain up-to-date with industry trends and legal and regulatory developments and understand the common industry positions.

This mix of experience in the space sector is unique for a UK law firm and allows Burges Salmon to provide tailored commercial advice for all aspects of a space project.

 Areas of focus

 Our satellite and space project lawyers specialise in the following areas:

  • Space system procurement.
  • Contracts for design, manufacture and operation of space systems.
  • First and second generation satellite services outsourcing.
  • Military satellite projects.
  • Satellite financing.
  • Regulatory and licensing issues.
  • Liability and risk for space activities.
  • Regulated procurements.
  • Sole source procurement.
  • Managing service / asset transition.
  • Project and risk management.
  • Contract management.

We have recently written a guide on what to expect from the new regulations under the Space Industry Act 2018, which are due to come into effect in 2021 and will enable commercial spaceflight to be carried out from the UK. Read the guide here.


Advising the UK Ministry of Defence on the sole source procurement of the Skynet 6A satellite system from Airbus Defence and Space Limited.

Advising the UK Ministry of Defence on the competition to appoint a new operational service provider for the Skynet System on expiry of the Skynet 5 satellite PFI project.

Advising private sector clients from the defence and commercial aerospace sectors on various contractual arrangements including teaming agreements for development of new technology, a development and manufacturing contract for provision of mission-critical spacecraft parts, and contracts for research and modelling services.

Advising the UAE Armed Forces on the YahSat military satellite communications project including negotiation of the capacity services agreement and the separate ground terminal support contract.

Advising the UK Ministry of Defence on the Skynet 5 PFI project, including advice on the original bank debt project financing and the subsequent project bond refinancing and restructuring (whereby a physical assurance strategy involving a part-built replacement satellite replaced the Skynet 5C satellite launch insurance).

Advising the UK Ministry of Defence on the exercise of the Skynet 5D option to build out Skynet 5D and resulting capacity allocation negotiations.

Meet the team
Keith Beattie

Keith Beattie Partner

  • Projects
  • Aviation
  • Defence
Mark Paterson

Mark Paterson Partner

  • Defence
  • Business Transformation
  • Central Government
John Houlden

John Houlden Partner

  • Head of Public Sector
  • Head of Procurement and Subsidy Control
  • Projects
Chris Chesterman

Chris Chesterman Partner

  • Commercial
  • Projects
  • Defence
Headshot of Justin Barrow

Justin Barrow Senior Associate

  • Technology
  • Data Protection
  • Space and Satellites

Key contact

Keith Beattie

Keith Beattie Partner

  • Projects
  • Aviation
  • Defence

Regulating commercial spaceflight in the UK

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