(Bloomberg) -- Britain’s aviation regulator will now oversee space, gearing up for what’s expected to be a surge in missions as the cost of commercial launches tumbles.

The Civil Aviation Authority will take on the role immediately and accept applications from any company that wants to operate under a U.K. space license, it said Thursday. Potential customers include satellite firms and spaceflight companies using a number of spaceports that the government plans to establish in coming years.

Britain aims to play a major part in what’s been described as a coming industrial revolution in space as firms led by Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit slash the cost of sending hardware into orbit, and advances in robotics and artificial intelligence deliver technological leaps.

“The U.K. already has a leading satellite industry and can capitalize on further growth within the space sector,” Richard Moriarty, the authority’s chief executive officer, said in the release.

The CAA is adding the space role to its brief after taking on aircraft design and production certification following Britain’s exit from the European Union.

The bureau said it will take between nine and 18 months to deliver a launch license, and that the first should be granted next year. That’s in line with the U.K.’s plan to offer Europe’s first orbital satellite launches by 2022.

Spaceports are planned for locations including Newquay in western England, Llanbedr in Wales and Prestwick, Scotland, using airport runways for Virgin Orbit-style launches from the wing of a jetliner, while a rocket launch pad is under development in the Shetland Islands.

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