Alden Orrery – Regulatory Briefing – October 2022
European Union (EU)
EU Parliament adopts Resolution on Space Traffic Management (STM)
The EU Parliament has formally adopted a Resolution titled “An EU approach for Space Traffic management – an EU contribution addressing a global challenge” as of 6 October 2022.
The Resolution calls on the European Commission to propose legislation on STM, system governance and the responsibilities of a proposed EU Agency for the Space Programme before 2024. The Resolution also calls for advances in space surveillance and tracking (SST) services which will boost research and innovation in STM.
Norway announces new space authority
The Norwegian Government has announced that the Luftfartstilsynet (the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority) will become the Norwegian Space Authority from 2023.
Announced on 6 October 2022 by the Norwegian Minister for Industry, Jan Christian Vestre, the new Norwegian Space Authority will provide stable framework conditions for business operators from Norway and other countries who wish to launch from the Andøya spaceport from 2023.
In the same announcement, the Norwegian Government renewed its commitment to industry-led European Space Agency (ESA) programmes and investment in its national satellite capacity for ocean monitoring.
Slovakia becomes an ESA Associate Member State
Following the Association Agreement signed between ESA and Slovakia in June 2022, Slovakia’s Associate membership came into effect on 13 October 2022.
Slovakia’s Associate membership is for an initial duration of seven years and entitles Slovakia to benefit from most ESA Basic Activities (including applications, safety, security, science and exploration) executed under the general budget of ESA. Slovakia can now also provide scientific experiments or observation facilities to the programme.
UK joins anti-satellite testing ban
The UK Government has joined the US-led ban on the destructive testing of direct ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) missiles. Announcing the ban on 3 October 2022, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office highlighted that DA-ASAT missiles can worsen the space debris issue, which has a potentially destabilising effect on global prosperity, development and security.
The US was the first space-faring nation to declare a ban on DA-ASAT missile testing in May 2022.
ORBITS Act introduced to US Senate
The Orbital Sustainability Act of 2022 (ORBITS Act) was introduced to the US Senate last month.
The bipartisan bill aims to address the growing issue of orbital debris by developing active debris removal (ADR) technology, with the eventual goal of removing debris objects from orbit.
Upon becoming law, the ORBITS Act would:
- direct NASA, the Office of Space Commerce (OSC) and the National Space Council (NSpC) to publish a list of the highest priority orbital debris posing the greatest risk to space operations and the environment;
- direct NASA to create a programme focused on debris removal research and development;
- update orbital debris mitigation guidelines across multiple government agencies; and
- require the OSC, the NSpC and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to develop practices to improve space situational awareness (SSA) and STM.
The ORBITS Act shows a commitment by the US to leading by example with regards to orbital sustainability and the safe removal of space debris.
New Executive Order issued on foreign investment into the US
President Biden has issued an Executive Order (EO) regarding the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and its evaluation of national security risks associated with inbound foreign investment.
The EO offers new and important clarifications for transaction parties and signals to market participants what types of transactions may raise national security concerns. Specifically, the EO instructs CFIUS to consider a transaction’s potential harm to US technological leadership in key areas impacting national security, including by assessing whether a transaction may in the future lead to technological developments that could undermine US national security.
The EO will make it more difficult for foreign investors in the US space industry and their investments targets in engaging with the CFIUS review process.
US Commerce and Defense Departments agree to cooperate on STM
The US Department of Commerce (DoC) and the Department of Defense (DoD) have signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) formalising the organisations’ relationship for basic SSA, STM and coordination for civil and commercial entities. The agreement defines how the two departments will work cooperatively to implement the National Space Council’s 2018 Space Policy Directive 3 (SPD-3).
SPD-3 directed the DoC to provide space SSA and STM services, such as conjunction warnings. This new agreement defines how the DoD can support the DoC in the implementation of SPD-3. General James Dickinson, commander of US Space Command, said in a statement that the MOA “is a necessary first step in a civil authority conducting tracking and notification of space objects”. The specific provisions of the MOA have not been confirmed.
Saudi Arabia signs new human spaceflight agreement
Axiom Space, a human spaceflight service provider, has signed an agreement with the Saudi Space Commission (SSC) for a future flight opportunity no earlier than 2023. The agreement concerns the provision of spaceflight training to Saudi astronauts and scientific research and experiments in priority areas such as health, sustainability and space technology.
The astronaut program of Saudi Arabia is integral to the nation’s Vision 2030. To complement this agreement, Saudi Arabia is planning to launch its National Space Strategy in the next few months.
Argentina signs domestic launch technology agreement
The Argentinian National Commission for Space Activities signed an agreement on 3 October 2022 with private company VENG to advance the development of the Argentine Tronador II satellite launcher.
The agreement provides for significant investment in the development of a launcher prototype and priority auxiliary infrastructure. The development of national launch infrastructure is the first stage in Argentina’s plan to launch nationally designed and manufactured satellites into orbit, and to be able to offer this service to other countries both in South America and globally. The project plans to launch the “TII-70” rocket from the Punta Indio Space Centre as early as 2026.
South Korea joins anti-satellite testing ban
The Government of South Korea has joined the UK in banning the use of DA-ASAT missiles. Complementary to this decision, South Korea’s permanent representative to the United Nations (UN) has welcomed the UN’s open-ended working group process as an important opportunity to find common ground on identifying responsible behaviours to reduce space threats.
South Korea’s announcement came three weeks after Japan and Germany joined the US-led initiative, and several months after Canada and New Zealand signalled their support. This raises the number of countries supporting the US-led ban on DA-ASAT missiles to seven.
Southern Launch enters into agreement with US Space Command
Launch facility operator Southern Launch signed a Space Situational Awareness Sharing Agreement with the US Space Command on 7 October 2022.
The agreement provides for the sharing of launch data with US Space Command, ensuring that the planned trajectories avoid space objects already in orbit. This agreement furthers the aims of Australia’s national space strategy, where SSA and the monitoring of space debris are listed as one of seven civil space priorities.
New Zealand signs space cooperation agreement with Germany
The New Zealand Space Agency and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action signed a Space Cooperation Agreement (SCA) to promote the safe, secure and responsible use of outer space on 6 October 2022.
The SCA formalises global norms in space and provides the opportunity for closer regulatory, policy and research collaboration. The SCA also provides for further cooperation in space security and space object detection and tracking.