Alden Orrery – Regulatory Briefing – January 2023

By Joanne Wheeler | 18 January, 2023 Posted in Articles and Publications

Regulatory Briefing – January 2023



Italian Space Agency (ASI) announces 2023 strategy

The President of ASI, Mr Giorgio Saccoccia, announced ASI’s objectives for 2023 on 12 January 2023.

Amongst its objectives, ASI is seeking to deepen its partnership with signatories of the Artemis programme – a US-led Moon mission which is a collaboration under the Artemis Accords – and is seeking to agree bilateral and multilateral collaborations with other partners of the Artemis programme.

The President also announced that ASI intends to facilitate access to space for emerging economies not involved with the space domain and to enhance ASI’s role in creating bridges between the space industry and other sectors.



Sweden sets out priorities for Council of the European Presidency

Sweden has set out its space priorities after assuming the Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU).

The plan, published by the Swedish Presidency, details that ‘space activities are a strategic asset in developing the information society and intersect with many other important societal issues.’ As a result, the Presidency aims to work towards measures that promote fair and sustainable use of space.

The Presidency also intends to take up the negotiations on the proposal for an EU Regulation establishing the Union Secure Connectivity Program for 2023-2027 and promote work on a space strategy for security and defence.

The news of Sweden’s space priorities came as Sweden announced the official opening of a new spaceport in the Esrange Space Centre in northern Sweden.

The spaceport was inaugurated on 13 January 2023 and will supplement current European launch capabilities in French Guiana.


United Kingdom

Ofcom publishes new commercial drone services

Ofcom has announced that it will begin to issue spectrum licences for essential drone safety and communications equipment. Companies will be able to apply for a new type of spectrum licence from 20 January 2023 which will allow the use of mobile and satellite networks to enable drone fleets to operate a wider range of services and over longer distances.

This new licensing regime is a shift from the previous approach which allowed drones to use airwaves designated for model aircraft or for Wi-Fi without a licence.


Ofcom publishes proposed Plan of Work for 2023/24

Ofcom has published its proposed Plan of Work for 2023/24, which outlines areas of work for the next financial year.

Ofcom have highlighted priority outcomes to be met over the course of 2023/24 which are as follows:

  • “internet we can rely on – fast and reliable connections and services for everyone, everywhere;
  • media we trust and value – media and news from across the UK watched by audiences;
  • we live a safer life online – platforms are incentivised to reduce harms and make consumers safer; and
  • enabling wireless services in the wide economy – ensuring efficient use of spectrum and supporting growth across the economy.”

Responses to Ofcom’s proposed Plan of Work can be submitted using the consultation response form available online.

The consultation period closes on 8 February 2023 and the final plan will be published in March 2023.


North America

United States (US)

US senate passes legislation on orbital debris

The US Senate passed a bill relating to the proposed ‘Orbital Sustainability Act’ on 21 December 2022. The proposed legislation would direct NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to develop and implement best practices for reducing space debris in Earth’s orbit.

The proposed legislation would also require NASA to create a plan for removing debris that is already in orbit and directs the FAA to issue guidelines for commercial space companies to follow in order to reduce the amount of debris they create.

The bill will now be sent to the US House of Representatives for consideration.


US announces new membership of the National Space Council User Advisory Group (UAG)

The White House announced changes to the membership of the UAG on 16 December 2022.

The UAG provides advice to the National Space Council, which coordinates space policy across the US government. The White House has appointed 15 new members to the UAG, including representatives from SpaceX, Blue Origin, and United Launch Alliance.

The changes come as the National Space Council works to develop a long-term strategy for space exploration and development.




China outlines long-term plan for space

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), China’s main space contractor, has outlined its long-term plan for space development in a briefing on 20 December 2023. The plan is intended to feed into the broader strategic aims of the Communist Party of China’s General Secretary, Xi Jinping, to build a strong space nation.

The plan includes the development of the following activities:

  • space transportation;
  • space exploration;
  • space governance; and
  • building a national infrastructure for civil space use, including Earth observation, telecommunications, navigation and constellations.

The CASC’s plan also emphasised China’s commitment to the peaceful use of outer space and cooperation with other nations. The plan states that China will continue to participate in space activities led by the United Nations (UN) and promote international cooperation in space exploration and satellite applications.



Israel announces new space administration

Israel’s Air Force has announced the creation of a new space administration on 8 January 2023. The purpose of the administration has been subject to military censorship, however it is known that the administration will be commanded by an officer with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.


Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia withdraws from the Moon Agreement

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has withdrawn from the 1979 Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (Moon Agreement). Saudi Arabia ratified the Moon Agreement on 18 July 2012, becoming one of only 18 countries to do so. The withdrawal of Saudi Arabia officially takes place on 5 January 2024 and represents the first withdrawal of a state from one of the United Nations space treaties.

Saudi Arabia previously became a signatory of the Artemis Accords – a US-led initiative that aims to establish international guidelines for the responsible and peaceful international exploration of outer space – which is often regarded as being in conflict with the principles of the Moon Agreement.




Djibouti signs memorandum of understanding (MoU) for spaceport construction

The Government of Djibouti has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Hong Kong Aerospace Technology Group and Touchroad International Holdings Group to build a $1 billion spaceport in northern Djibouti.

The MoU, signed on 9 January 2023, covers the provision of seven satellite launch facilities and three rocket testing pads. The MoU reflects Djibouti’s commitment to space cooperation through public-private partnerships and to developing its domestic space capabilities.


Nigeria and Rwanda

Nigeria and Rwanda join the Artemis Accords

Nigeria and Rwanda have become the first African nations to join the Artemis Accords. Both Nigeria and Rwanda have ambitious space programs and have been working to develop their own space capabilities in recent years.

By becoming parties to the Artemis Accords, Nigeria and Rwanda commit to principles to guide their 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.




Australia launches Air Traffic Management (ATM) satellites

Australian space-services company Skykraft has launched its first ATM satellites which represent the largest Australian-made payload launched into space.

The Skykraft satellites are part of a testing process that seeks to validate the company’s space-based ATM services. According to Skykraft, the global system will increase ATM efficiency, reduce carbon dioxide emissions and fill gaps in both surveillance and communications in remote locations.

This launch represents an important step in the development of space technologies for terrestrial uses and is an example of the types of technology that space regulation will need to address as these technologies evolve. Additionally, this launch demonstrates the uses that space technology can have in relation to the regulation and sustainability of terrestrial activities (e.g., traffic management).