Alden Orrery – Regulatory Briefing – September and October 2023
Regulatory Briefing – September and October 2023
European Union (EU)
ESA and EU sign agreement to develop the IRIS2 constellation
On 21 September 2023, the European Commission signed a Contribution Agreement with the European Space Agency (ESA) aimed at developing and validating the IRIS2 constellation. This is a key building block in establishing the Union Secure Connectivity Programme (Programme), which will provide enhanced satellite communication capacities to governmental users, businesses and citizens.
Speaking on the signature of the 12-year Contribution Agreement, ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher said: “ESA is proud to cooperate closely with the European Commission to ensure that space enhances the lives of European citizens — and to foster a strong and resilient European space economy.”
European Space Agency (ESA)
ESA and ICEYE partner to participate in the Civil Security from Space Programme
ICEYE has been selected as a partner by ESA to participate in the Civil Security from Space Programme (CSS) to revolutionise disaster and crisis management from space. This marks the first Partnership contract under the CSS program.
The Partnership contract aims to develop an advanced suite of natural catastrophe monitoring services. The three-year partnership aims to drive collaboration on the “Disaster Management from Space” project and develop a comprehensive suite of Disaster Management Solutions for effective natural catastrophe management.
ESA and Axiom Space sign Memorandum of Understanding
ESA and Axiom Space signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to explore collaborative opportunities in human spaceflight, science, technology and commercialisation on 1 October 2023.
Both organisations expressed the intent to foster science and technology development, potentially collaborating on Axiom Space missions to the International Space Station (ISS) and post-ISS low-Earth orbit activities. The MoU also addressed key areas of collaboration including: astronaut missions; innovation in spacesuits; research and development; and access to Axiom Station, a commercial laboratory and residential infrastructure in space that will serve as a home for research and commercial activities.
UK Space Agency (UKSA) launches consultation on Orbital Liabilities, Insurance, Charging and Space Sustainability
New proposals for deciding liability limits for satellite operators, alternative insurance models, charges and longer-term priorities for space sustainability were set out in a UKSA consultation published on 14 September 2023.
The consultation on the proposals focuses on how the government intends to implement a new approach to setting variable limits of liability to support the needs of satellite operators. The proposal is to adopt the new variable approach with different levels of liability for different missions – as opposed to the current ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach of a flat-rate amount of €60 million.
The consultation also seeks to inform government policy on a range of areas relating to longer-term space sustainability. For example, the consultation explores the possibility of refunding licence fees to companies committed to sustainable practices. One of the key proposals in the consultation is for the UK government to develop a space sustainability roadmap out to 2050 and beyond.
The consultation additionally provides an update on the government’s assessment of three possible alternative ways to ensure an operator’s third-party liability requirements set out in UK licence conditions for orbital operations. This includes a proposal from the Satellite Finance Network to establish a sector-led mutual.
The closing date for responses is 7 December 2023. The full consultation can be accessed here.
UK re-joins Horizon Europe and Copernicus programs
On 7 September 2023, the UK announced that it will re-join the Horizon Europe and Copernicus programs through a new bespoke agreement with the EU. This agreement grants UK scientists access to Horizon Europe, the world’s largest research collaboration program, providing opportunities for UK companies and research institutions to lead global projects in a variety of scientific fields.
Additionally, the UK will also re-join the Copernicus program the European Earth Observation program. As stated by Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UKSA, this will allow the “UK space sector to continue to play a significant role in the development of critical missions that will enable us to monitor our planet more effectively and lead a global effort through the use of satellite data to find new solutions to the urgent challenge of climate change”.
UKSA publishes Space Sector Skills Survey 2023
The UKSA published its Space Sector Skills Survey 2023 on 13 September 2023.
The report highlighted that that new recruits with skills in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are in high demand to harness the benefits of emerging technologies in the UK space sector. To keep pace with such a fast-growing industry however, the UKSA plans to invest £15 million in education, skills and outreach over the next two years.
The full report can be read here.
Ofcom publishes discussion paper on spectrum management for next generation wireless broadband
On 18 October 2023, Ofcom published a discussion paper advocating an approach to spectrum management that addresses the challenges posed by the diversity and uncertainty of Next Generation Wireless Broadband (NGWB), in line with the 2021 Spectrum Management Strategy.
The proposed approach to spectrum management places a greater emphasis on the sharing of spectrum and more flexible access to it. Furthermore, Ofcom suggests that the approach may require changes along the whole spectrum ‘pipeline’ from technical studies and allocations made at the ITU, through to equipment standards that incorporate flexible access and sharing ‘by design’ and thereby enabling more options for domestic spectrum authorisations.
The full paper can be accessed here.
UK Space Agency announces £65 million of funding for space technologies and applications
The UK Space Agency (UKSA) has launched the National Space Innovation Programme (NSIP) which includes £65 million of funding for ground-breaking innovations that could boost UK leadership in space technologies and applications.
The first tranche of up to £34 million funding is open to proposals that will drive innovation, accelerate the route to market, and catalyse investment into the UK space sector. The remaining funding will be split across further calls in 2024 and 2025 with projects running until March 2027.
Germany signs Artemis Accords
Germany became the 29th state to sign the Artemis Accords on 14 September 2023. 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.
Walter Pelzer, Director General for the German space agency at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) stated that “The German signing of the Artemis Accords gives a further boost to this joint endeavour (between Germany and the US) to carry out programs for the exploration of space”.
Germany adopts new Space Strategy
The German Federal Government adopted a new Space Strategy through the Federal Cabinet on 27 September 2023. The new Space Strategy is designed to reflect the growing significance of space systems and identifies nine priorities for the German space sector:
- European and international cooperation;
- the aerospace industry as a growing market: in particular the high-tech and new space sectors;
- climate change, resources and environmental protection;
- digitalisation, data and downstream;
- security, strategic ability to act, and global stability;
- sustainable use of space;
- space research;
- international space exploration; and
- space travel and talent recruitment
The full space strategy can be read here.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires more satellite operators to mitigate their impact of their satellites on ground based-astronomy
On 31 August 2023 the FCC issued authorisations to ICEYE and Planet, two satellite constellation operators, updating their licences to add new satellites. Both licences now include provisions requiring the companies to coordinate with the National Science Foundation (NSF) “to achieve a mutually acceptable agreement to mitigate the impact of its satellites… on optical ground-based astronomy.”
It is hoped that these provisions will help to minimise the effects that large numbers of constellations could have on ground-based astronomy.
Venezuela and China sign space cooperation framework agreement
On 13 September 2023, the administrator of the China National Space Administration, and Venezuela’s Vice President and Minister of Science and Technology, signed a space cooperation framework agreement during a state visit to Beijing.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro promised to send “the first Venezuelan man or woman to the Moon” in a Chinese spacecraft as part of the partnership, and that “very soon, Venezuelan youth will come to prepare as astronauts, here in Chinese schools,” as part of a “new era” of collaboration between China and Venezuela.
South Africa formally joins project to establish permanent Moon base
On 1 September 2023, the Chinese Ambassador to South Africa, Chen Xiaodong, on behalf of the Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA) and Humbulani Mudau, CEO of the South African Space Agency (SANSA) signed a MoU between CNSA and SANSA on the International Lunar Research Station Cooperation (ILRS).
The ILRS project is a China-led project which aims to construct a permanent lunar base in the 2030s.
The MoU facilitates extensive cooperation between CNSA and SANSA in the demonstration, implementation, operation and application of the ILRS, as well as training and other areas.
India and US reaffirm and strengthen space cooperation
On 8 September 2023, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with US President Joe Biden in India, where the two leaders pledged further cooperation between the two states, including on several ambitious space projects.
In particular, as detailed in a Joint-Statement from India and the US released following the meeting, the two leaders primarily welcomed efforts towards establishment of a Working Group for commercial space collaboration under the existing India-US Civil Space Joint Working Group. The statement also detailed that the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the NASA are continuing efforts to finalise a strategic framework for human space flight cooperation by the end of 2023 and emphasised the joint intent to increase coordination on planetary defence to protect planet Earth and space assets from the impact of asteroids and near-Earth objects, including US support for India’s participation in asteroid detection and tracking via the Minor Planet Centre (MPC). The MPC operates at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and is responsible for the designation of minor bodies in the solar system, such as minor planets, comets and natural satellites.
United Arab Emirates
UNOOSA and Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre in the UAE announce new “Access to Space for All” opportunity
The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) of the UAE announced on 4 October 2023 that they are opening a new round of their joint Payload Hosting Initiative (PHI) programme.
This joint capacity-building effort promotes space science and technology in developing nations and economies in transition and fosters innovations that can help scale up activities in emerging space nations.
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