Alden Orrery – Regulatory Briefing – April and May 2023
G7 Science and Technology Ministers release Joint Communiqué
The Science and Technology Ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) have released a Joint Communiqué featuring a significant emphasis on the promotion of the safe and sustainable use of outer space.
The Communiqué, released after the Ministers met in Sendai, Japan between 12-14 May 2023, highlights the rapid increase in space debris and calls for urgent action to ensure the safe and sustainable use of space. To demonstrate leadership and promote debris mitigation efforts, the Ministers recommend that the G7 should:
- continue to act consistently in accordance with existing space debris mitigation guidelines;
- share best practices on space situational awareness (SSA);
- encourage further research and development of orbital debris mitigation and remediation technologies; and
- encourage transparency and responsible remediation practices and foster the future development of international guidelines in this area.
The full Communiqué can be accessed here.
The European Union (EU)
European Space Companies sign partnership agreement to bid for IRIS²
A consortium of Europe’s largest space companies have come together in a bid for a role in the European Union’s future satellite constellation IRIS².
The open consortium led by Airbus Defence and Space, Eutelsat, Hispasat, SES and Thales Alenia Space, aims to foster collaboration among all European space players with a view to enabling EU’s strategic autonomy through the delivery of sovereign, secure and resilient government services to protect European citizens.
European Space Agency (ESA)
Launch contract signed for ClearSpace-1
ClearSpace and Arianespace have signed a launch contract for ClearSpace-1. Due to launch in late 2026, ClearSpace-1 will be the first active debris removal mission that will capture and deorbit a derelict space debris object, more than 100kg.
Luc Piguet CEO of ClearSpace stated that the company was “enthusiastic about this deal with Arianespace” and that ClearSpace “look[s] forward to this European collaboration and the potential for more missions in the future”.
JUICE mission launches from Europe’s Spaceport
ESA and Arianespace successfully launched the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) mission on 24 April 2023 from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.
The mission will make detailed observations of Jupiter and three of its moons: Ganymede; Callisto; and Europa. JUICE will study these moons as both planetary objects and possible habitats as well as explore Jupiter’s complex environment in depth as an archetype for gas giants across the Universe.
ITU and European Commission announce new project to promote meaningful connectivity
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the European Commission (EC) launched a new project on 27 April 2023 at the Transform Africa Summit, Zimbabwe.
The new joint project seeks to promote and measure meaningful digital connectivity, advance holistic policy approaches and provide recommendations on boosting good-quality Internet and mobile access. Forming part of the European Union’s Global Gateway initiative, the new partnership offers a “a unique opportunity for strengthening multilateral cooperation to expand meaningful connectivity and drive sustainable digital transformation”.
Czech Republic signs Artemis Accords
The Czech Republic became the 24th country to sign the US-led Artemis Accords on 3 May 2023. The Czech Government hopes that “signature will kickstart the development of institutional and industrial cooperation within the Artemis community as well as directly between Czechia and the U.S.”
By becoming a party to the Artemis Accords, the Czech Republic commits to principles to guide its civil space activities, including the public release of scientific data, responsible debris mitigation, registration of space objects and the establishment and implementation of interoperability standards.
CMA approves Viasat and Inmarsat merger
Viasat and Inmarsat’s merger has been approved by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
After a thorough investigation of the deal, the CMA were satisfied that the merged company would face sufficient competition from established and emerging players. Despite the fear that the deal would reduce competition for in-flight Wi-Fi services, Richard Feasey, who chaired the CMA, stated nonetheless that “all the evidence has shown that the sector will continue to grow as the demand for satellite connectivity increases”.
UK and Japan sign renewed science and technology deal
The UK and Japan signed a renewed Science and Technology Collaboration Agreement in Tokyo on 15 May 2023. The deal builds on decades of close cooperation and longstanding UK-Japan research links. It is hoped that the new deal will open up more opportunities for close collaboration to bring cutting edge technologies to the market.
Announcing the deal, UK Minister for Science George Freeman said, “This deal is just another demonstration of the UK’s ambition to become a truly global science superpower, by deepening collaboration on the science and technology of tomorrow with like-minded nations like Japan, as well as the rest of the G7”.
ASI awards €235 million contract for in-orbit servicing mission
The Italian Space Agency (ASI) has awarded a €235 million contract to a group of local companies led by Thales Alenia Space to design, develop and qualify a spacecraft capable of performing a range of autonomous robotic operations on satellites in low Earth orbit.
The in-orbit servicing mission is set to be launched by 2026. Thales Alenia Space stated that “this mission… will generate synergies that ensure the future viability of the space sector, while also developing all-Italian technologies to support the growth of the country’s space industry”.
Italy joins ASAT ban
Italy became the 13th country to join the US-led ban on the destructive testing of direct ascent ASAT missiles on 6 April 2023.
Announcing his support, Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Antoni Tajani, stated that “Italv will continue “to work actively and constructively to increase the safety and sustainability of outer space, a common good that is very important for the vital interests of all nations”.
Roscosmos to remain on ISS until 2028
In a statement released on 27 April 2023, NASA announced that the Russian Government has agreed to participate in the International Space Station (ISS) until at least 2028.
Yuri Borisov, head of the Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos, shared that he is looking forward to continuing “to contribute to the realization of the most daring ideas of mankind in space exploration”.
First space activity licences issued under new Space Activities Law
OQ Technology has become one of the first space companies in Luxembourg to receive a space activity licence under Luxembourg’s new Space Activities Law.
Having undergone rigorous technical, legal, security, and administrative due diligence on the company, this licence authorises OQ Technology to offer Internet of Things (IoT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity services with all additional satellites. OQ Technology’s will register its satellites in Luxembourg’s national registry of space objects.
Switzerland adopts Federal Space Policy
The Swiss Federal Council adopted its Federal Space Policy 2023 on 19 April 2023.
The Policy highlights the growing use of satellite-based applications, as well as the rising number of players in the space domain in Switzerland. The Policy addresses the “rapid development in and increasing importance of outer space” by pursuing three key strands:
- access and resiliency;
- competitiveness and relevance; and
- partnership and reliability.
The Swiss Federal Council hopes that the Policy will provide a “basis on which the Confederation can build strategies, provides industry and science with a way to orient itself, and makes it possible to evaluate and assess the impact of government measures”. The full Space Policy can be accessed here.
Slovenia publishes Draft Space Strategy
Slovenia published its Draft Space Strategy 2030 during a public presentation in Ljubljana on 13 April 2023.
The Strategy focuses on space sustainability and space applications, as well as the development of R&D and STEM education. The Strategy has been welcomed as an important step towards the State’s fully-fledged membership of the ESA.The Draft Space Strategy can be accessed here.
US strengthens SSA cooperation with the Philippines
The US and the Philippines have agreed to strengthen space situational awareness cooperation in a summit between US President Joe Biden and Philippine President Ferdinand R Marcos Jr on 1 May 2023 at the White House.
In a joint statement, the leaders recognised the “importance of enhancing and sustaining joint efforts in outer space activities” and plan to hold the first-ever bilateral Civil Space Dialogue between the two States this year.
NASA announces Artemis 2 Crew
NASA announced that three Americans and one Canadian will be the crew of the Artemis 2 mission at a ceremony at Ellington Airport, Texas on 3 April 2023.
Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, Christina Koch and Jeremy Hansen will be the first humans to travel beyond low Earth orbit in more than half a century.
Artemis II is the first crewed mission on NASA’s path to establishing a long-term presence at the Moon for science and exploration through Artemis. The approximately 10-day flight will pave the way for lunar surface missions, including the landing of the first woman and person of colour on the Moon.
FCC adopts new rules governing NGSO spectrum-sharing
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted new rules governing how operators in non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) share spectrum.
Adopted on 20 April 2023, the new rules clarify how operators awarded fixed-satellite service NGSO licences in different FCC application processing rounds must avoid interfering with each other.
Undertaken by the FCC’s recently established standalone Space Bureau, the regulator hopes the new rules will “open [the] skies to more competition”.
US Space Command signs three new space cooperation agreements
The US Space Command has signed three new international cooperation agreements with Australia, Italy and Peru at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, US. They include the following.
- An enhanced space cooperation memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the US Space Command and the Australian Defence Space Command.
- A new agreement with the Italian Defence General Staff to strengthen the US-Italian military partnership in the space domain.
- A space situational awareness agreement with the Peruvian National Commission on Aerospace Research and Development, and the Peruvian Air Force.
NASA confirms launch date for Ax-2
The Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2), the second all-private mission to the ISS was successfully launched on 21 May 2023.
The four-person crew to the ISS, includes two mission specialists from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ali AlQarni and Rayyanah Barnaqi, who will become the first Saudi woman to reach space.
The launch forms part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 which aims to empower national capabilities in human spaceflight geared towards serving humanity and contributing to scientific research in many aspects such as health, sustainability and space technology.
UAE announces second Emrati lunar mission
During his visit to the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) on 26 April 2023, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE announced that work will begin on Rashid 2, the UAE’s second mission to the lunar surface. The news comes just a day after the presumed hard landing of the Hakuto-R Mission 1 spacecraft carrying the previous Rashid rover.
Highlighting the UAE’s ambition, Sheikh Mohammed said the UAE will continue to develop its expertise in an already “vibrant national space sector”.
Rocket Lab launches two NASA satellites
New Zealand-based Rocket Lab successfully launched two of NASA’s TROPICS CubeSats into low Earth orbit on 7 May 2023, from the company’s New Zealand site.
The two CubeSats have become the founding satellites of NASA’s TROPICS constellation which will measure the hour-by-hour formation and progression of tropical cyclones and hurricanes with enhanced specificity.
Southern Launch signs MOU with Space Forge
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed between Southern Launch and UK-based Space Forge at the International Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, US, between 17-20 April 2023.
Southern Launch hopes to explore possibilities of Satellite Return to their Koonibba Test Range.
Announcing the MOU, Joshua Western, CEO and Co-Founder of Space Forge, stated that “this partnership has great potential to bring economic growth and cutting-edge technologies to both the UK and Australia.”
Kenya launches first operational EO satellite
Kenya launched its first operational Earth observation (EO) satellite onboard a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket in California, US on 11 April 2023.
Designed and developed by Kenyan researchers, Taifa-1 will provide data in the areas of agriculture and environmental monitoring in Kenya.
In a joint statement, the Kenyan Ministry of Defence and the Kenya Space Agency celebrated the major milestone which they hope will boost Kenya’s nascent space economy.
Indian Government adopts Space Policy
On 6 April 2023, the Indian Government approved India’s Space Policy 2023. The Policy facilitates an enhanced role of the private sector in India, while clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
In particular, the Policy has been praised by Indian industry leaders for allowing Non-Government Entities (NGEs) to undertake end-to-end activities in the space sector through geostationary orbit (GSO) and NGSO satellite systems.
The full Space Policy can be accessed here.
South Korea and United States strengthen space industry cooperation
During a visit to the US on 25 April 2023, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol signed an agreement with the State to enhance cooperation on space activities ranging from lunar exploration to Earth science.
Speaking through a translator, Yoon stated that the agreement “will serve as a springboard for taking space cooperation between our two allies to the next level of space alliance”.
The Philippines and Argentina sign new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
On 25 April 2023, the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) and the National Commission on Space Activities (CONAE) signed an agreement for cooperation on the peaceful uses of outer space.
The MOU covers Earth observation from space; the use of satellite information; satellite systems development and their applications; ground infrastructure for space systems and their applications; space education and training; and space industry promotion.
Signing the agreement, PhilSA Director General Joel Joseph S Marciano Jr said “our cooperation agreement with Argentina marks another milestone in our efforts to expand and deepen our ties with other space-capable nations”.