Alden Orrery – Regulatory Briefing – June and July 2023
66th meeting for UNCOPUOS takes place.
The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) met for the 66th session in Vienna from 31 May – 9 June 2023.
Ensuring the long-term sustainability of space activities was again a focus of UNCOPUOS. In particular, discussions centred on whether to add an agenda item to its scientific and technical subcommittee (STSC) on the Protection of Dark and Quiet Skies for Science and Society and establishing a working group of experts within UNCOPUOS to study the issue. Despite many countries showing support for the agenda item to be added, no consensus was reached. It was decided to postpone discussion until February 2024, when the STSC next meets.
5th Summit for Space Sustainability takes place
The Secure World Foundation’s 5th Summit for Space Sustainability took place in New York, United States, on 13 and 14 June 2023.
The Summit brought together global stakeholders from governments, the space industry, academia and finance to highlight opportunities and challenges for developing solutions for space sustainability.
In particular, key discussion points included the importance of regulation supporting innovation in space; the appropriate governance framework for the extraction an use of space resources; and the pertinence of banning Anti-Satellite Testing (ASAT).
European Union (EU)
EUSPA begins operating Space Surveillance and Tracking Front Desk
As of 1 July 2023, the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) began operating the Space Surveillance and Tracking (SST) Front Desk. The responsibility was transferred from the European Union Satellite Centre (SatCen) following the European Commission’s Decision of 3 June 2022.
It is hoped that through managing the EU SST front desk, EUSPA can follow the European Union’s objective to take a holistic approach to Space Traffic Management to address the issue of space congestion.
European Space Agency
ESA and the GSMA sign Memorandum of Intent
The European Space Agency (ESA) and the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) signed a Memorandum of Intent (MOI) on 12 July 2023. The MOI seeks to bring the mobile and satellite industries closer together to collaborate on developing new, innovative satellite and terrestrial networks technologies.
Through creating an ecosystem which can fast- track the development of new complimentary technology solutions for businesses and consumers, the partnership hopes to further strengthen the competitiveness of both mobile and satellite network industries.
UK Active Debris Removal Mission Reaches Milestone
ClearSpace has concluded the System Requirements Review for its upcoming CLEAR mission, marking a milestone in the UK’s debris removal mission.
The comprehensive examination of the satellite’s functionality, design and operational objectives validates ClearSpace’s mission proposal. Speaking on the accomplishment, the UK Space Agency’s Head of Sustainability, Ray Fielding, highlighted that the project “showcases the UK’s commitment to addressing the pressing challenge of space debris, further solidifying our position as a global leader in space sustainability”.
King Charles unveils seal to mark launch of Astra Carta
To mark the launch of the Sustainable Markets Initiative’s Astra Carta framework, His Majesty King Charles III unveiled the Astra Carta seal at Buckingham Palace on 28 June 2023.
The Astra Carta, announced at the 4th Summit for Space Sustainability in 2022, aims to create a framework for sustainability in space, building on the Artemis Accords to establish both peaceful and sustainable space exploration.
Earth & Space Sustainability Initiative launches
The Earth & Space Sustainability Initiative (ESSI) was launched on 28 June 2023 at the Royal Society, London, where The Global Leaders on Space Sustainability Symposium took place.
Established with support from the UK Space Agency (UKSA), ESSI will develop sets of Space Sustainability Principles to facilitate the establishment of Space Sustainability Standards.
To mark the launch of the initiative, a Memorandum of Principles, signed by more than 120 organisations, was prepared by ESSI. The Memorandum outlines the initial set of principles that ESSI will develop into more detailed, transparent Space Sustainability Principles, and then Space Sustainability Standards.
The Memorandum of Principles can be read here.
UK Government publishes National Space Strategy in Action.
The Department for Science, Innovation & Technology (DSIT) published the National Space Strategy in Action on 19 July 2023. The publication defines the next steps in delivering the National Space Strategy (NSS) which was published in September 2021. Some of the commitments made in the publication can be summarised as follows:
- a Space Sector Plan is being developed which will be published in 2023;
- an approach to Developing the UK Space Ecosystem will shortly be set out by the UK Government;
- a Space WorkForce Action Plan that builds on a £15 million Education and Skills Programme will be published in 2024;
- the UK Government will deliver on the UK’s £1.84 billion commitment to ESA;
- a new Venture Capital Framework for Space is being developed;
- the national priorities for civil Earth Observation (EO) will be published; and
- the UK Government will set out detail on the Defence Highly Assured Capabilities, building on the Defence Capability Management Strategy published last year
The full National Space Strategy in Action policy paper can be read here.
The UK Government publishes Case for Space research report
The UK Government also published the Case for Space on 19 July 2023. The research report highlights how space contributes to the UK, clarifying the end-user benefits that have resulted from successful space investments through analysing six case studies:
- the role of the UK launch industry in levelling up;
- space weather forecasting to ensure resilience of critical national infrastructures;
- enhancing connectivity across the UK through OneWeb;
- position, navigation and timing for routing emergency services to citizens in need;
- commercialising revolutionary UK technologies with Reaction Engines; and
- using Earth observation capabilities for automated monitoring within the UK farming and food industry.
The full report can be read here.
UK Government publishes Space Exploration Technology Roadmap
The UK Government published its Space Exploration Technology Roadmap on 20 July 2023. The roadmap will guide the UK Space Agency in decision-making by focusing on technologies which it is believed UK academia and industry can be best placed to lead.
The roadmap supports the aims of the National Space Strategy and hopes to put the UK at the forefront of pioneering R&D. The roadmap fits within the framework of civil capabilities announced in July 2023 as part of the National Space Strategy in Action.
The full roadmap can be read here.
UK Government releases UK Space Agency Annual Report and Accounts for 2022-2023
The UK Government published the UK Space Agency (UKSA) Annual Report and Accounts for 2022-2023 on 13 July 2023.
The report details that the UKSA has completed 23 of the 31 milestones that they set out to deliver at the start of the year, including the first UK space launch from Cornwall and the selection of three UK astronauts by ESA.
The full report can be read here.
Spain signs the Artemis Accords
On 30 May 2023, Spain became the 25th state to sign the Artemis Accords. The Artemis Accords are a US-led initiative to establish a common vision for countries looking to participate in NASA’s 21st-century lunar exploration plans.
Spain has been a major contributor to ESA for many years and is the eighth ESA member state to sign the Accords. Spain’s signatory status builds on the nation’s increasing space presence, which follows the establishment of Agencia Espacial Española in 2021.
Astroscale expands to France and formalises partnership with CNES
Astroscale announced the opening of Astroscale France on 19 June 2023 alongside the signing of a contract with the French national space agency (CNES).
The contract with CNES formalises a partnership between Astroscale France and CNES which includes a funded study for active debris removal of French space debris.
Speaking of the partnership, Astroscale founder and CEO Nobu Okada highlighted that “combining Astroscale’s on-orbit servicing leadership with CNES’s esteemed space heritage strengthens France’s role as a global leader in sustainable space policy and innovative technology.”
Federal Aviation Administration reduces closed airspace surrounding Cape Canaveral
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has introduced a revised zone of restricted airspace around Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and the Kennedy Space Centre.
The revised airspace restriction allows a key arrival route for commercial flights from the northeastern US to airports in central Florida to remain open. Currently, 92% of launches that affect the national airspace system are from Cape Canaveral. The move is part of wider efforts to limit the impact of growing launch activity on commercial aviation.
India signs Artemis Accords
India became the 27th State to sign the US-led Artemis Accords on 21 June 2023. The Indian government hopes the agreement will “reiterate India’s commitment to space exploration underpinned by new levels of cooperation and progress”.
The Artemis Accords require India to adhere to principles to guide its civil space activities, which include the public release of scientific data, responsible debris mitigation, registration of space objects and implementation of interoperability standards.
Astranis signs deal to launch satellite for the Philippines
The American space-based internet start-up Astranis announced on 11 July 2023 that it has signed a new deal with satellite service provider Orbits Corp and the Government of the Philippines to launch and operate a dedicated satellite for the Philippines.
It is hoped that the satellite will connection up to two million people across 5,000 remote and rural communities in the Philippines. The satellite is set to launch in 2024.
United Arab Emirates
UAE releases plans for asteroid mission
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) released details about its planned mission to the main asteroid belt on 29 May 2023. The UAE Space Agency announced that it hopes to launch the Emirati Mission to the asteroid belt in March 2028. The mission will study six asteroids before arriving at a seventh asteroid in 2034.
Announcing the plans, Sarah Al Amiri, chair of the UAE Space Agency said the mission is “a key components of the UAE National Space Strategy and has one overriding goal: the creation of viable and rewarding employment opportunities for young Emiratis for generations to come”.
Angola and Portugal strengthen cooperation in space.
Portugal and Angola signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Cooperation in the Peaceful Use of Space, Space Sciences, Technologies and Applications on 9 June 2023. The MoU particularly focuses on the economic and scientific development in space sciences and Earth observation activities. The two nations also agreed to promote the implementation of an agenda on space technologies in the scope of the Communities of Portuguese-Speaking Countries.
Ghana approves national space policy
The Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Kwaku Afriyie, announced on 19 July 2023 that the Cabinet has approved Ghana’s National Space Policy.
The publication of the policy seeks to enable Ghana to explore the benefits of space science for national development efforts. Dr Afriyie stated that his Ministry would collaborate with other relevant Ministries and the private sector to establish the Ghana Space Agency.
New Zealand launches national space policy
New Zealand launched its national space policy on 31 May 2023. The policy outlines the New Zealand Government’s key values in space as: stewardship; innovation; responsibility; and partnership.
The policy also highlights that New Zealand intends to develop a connected picture of its space interests globally through the following objectives:
- growing an innovative and inclusive space sector;
- protecting and advancing New Zealand’s national security interests;
- regulating to ensure space activities are safe and secure;
- promoting the responsible uses of space internationally; and
- modelling sustainable space and Earth environments
The full space policy can be read here.
Ecuador signs Artemis Accords
Ecuador became the 26th state to sign the US-led Artemis Accords on 21 June 2023. The signature makes Ecuador the 4th Latin American country to sign the Accords after Brazil, Columbia and Mexico.
At the signing ceremony, Ivonne Baki, Ecuador’s ambassador to the United States said that she hopes Ecuador’s accession to the Accords highlights the Ecuadorian government’s commitment to pursuing “cutting-edge efforts in technology and is open to innovation, investment, workforce development to promote sustainable growth, and international collaboration to help solve humanity’s greatest challenges”.