Alden Orrery – Regulatory Briefing – July 2022
European Space Agency (ESA) sets out space ambitions for the next three years to Member States
Director General of ESA, Josef Aschbacher, recently addressed delegates at ESA’s Council Meeting on ESA’s plans in space for the next three years. In his address, Aschbacher warned that ESA needed to be more ambitious in space to maintain its position and reap the benefits of space activities. This included focusing on developing ESA’s own space capabilities to mitigate the effects of strained international cooperation.
The next step is for ESA to take these priorities into the ESA Council of Ministers meeting this November. This meeting will definitively set ESA’s priorities for the next three years.
UK Government announces a new space sustainability plan
George Freeman, former minister for Science, Research and Innovation, announced a UK Government plan for space sustainability on 23 June 2022.
The plan intends to create a standard that will be recognised by investors and insurers and that will encourage companies to adopt effective practices for sustainable space operations. The plan includes a review of UK regulatory standards for orbital activities, the establishment of an industry kitemark to measure the safety and sustainability of operators as well as the provision of further funding to UK active debris removal programs.
The plan aims to “mainstream sustainability in [the UK] space sector” and to make the UK a global leader in space sustainability.
UK Government publishes response to orbital liability and insurance policy Call for Evidence
The UK Government has published a response to its Call for Evidence to Inform Orbital Liability and Insurance Policy. The response, published 23 June 2022, sets out potential future developments for UK space policy in relation to the in-orbit operator liability limit and insurance alternatives.
The response considers several issues that industry provided feedback on, including:
- adding a liability limit to section 12(2) of the Space Industry Act 2018;
- implementing a variable liability limit approach; and
- alternative insurance models, including a sector-led mutual approach.
In the response, the UK Government commits to developing a set of proposals in light of these proposals for consultation in late 2022 or early 2023.
Ofcom publishes consultation on extending access in the Ku band (14.25-14.5 GHz)
Ofcom has published a consultation on its proposals to enable satellite operators to access additional capacity in the Ku band (14.25-14.5 GHz).
Ofcom’s proposals include the following:
- enabling satellite operators to access additional capacity under a Satellite (Earth Station Network) licence in the 14.25-14.5 GHz band;
- introducing new conditions to protect existing radio astronomy sites in the 30 MHz between 14.47-14.5 GHz; and
- introducing temporary and bespoke conditions to protect any fixed links remaining temporarily in the band.
The consultation is open until 31 August 2022 and responses can be made via the consultation response form (available here).
US establishes National Space Intelligence Centre
The US Space Force (the space service branch of the US Armed Forces) has established the National Space Intelligence Centre (NSIC). The NSIC will be led by the Space Force’s newest unit, Space Delta 18, and will provide intelligence and technical expertise in the space domain.
US Department of Homeland Security publishes new space policy
The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has published in July 2022 the details of a new space policy signed in April 2022. The policy identifies the following three specific roles for DHS in space:
- protecting commercial and government space systems from cyber threats;
- minimising the impacts of disruption on DHS missions; and
- creating contingency plans for space operations against natural threats (such as space weather) and military threats.
The policy sets out DHS’s aims for contributing to US space priorities, although it does not assign responsibilities or implementation milestones.
Rwanda Space Agency commits to ensuring sustainable operator practice
The Rwanda Space Agency (RSA) has committed to enforcing strict sustainability measures on operators for which the RSA is a regulator.
Anuarite Umwari, the RSA’s legal and corporate secretary, spoke at the fourth Space Sustainability Summit in London and said that the RSA is fully engaged in the global debate surrounding the efficient use of radio spectrum and space debris mitigation.
The statement comes after Rwanda filed more than 300,000 satellites with the International Telecommunication Union in October 2021, launching an ambitious drive to make the country a hub for the African space industry.
Construction in Australia has begun on a new ESA antenna
Construction has actively begun on a new antenna located at ESA’s existing New Norcia ground station in Western Australia.
The Australian Space Agency is providing local and financial support to the project. The antenna is intended to support communications and data download for upcoming missions and joins the three existing deep-space antennas in ESA’s global tracking station network.
New Zealand joins anti-satellite (ASAT) testing ban
The Government of New Zealand has joined the US-led ban on the testing of destructive direct-ascent ASAT weapons. New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, Nanaia Mahuta, announced the ban on 1 July 2022, stating that New Zealand would not conduct ASAT testing due to the debris that the tests produce which increases the risk of collisions with satellites.
The US was the first space-faring nation to declare a ban on ASAT weapons testing in May 2022. Canada is the only other country that has formally joined this ban; however, several other countries have expressed their support.