TALLINN – A working group that will advise the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications in drawing up a bill on space objects gathered at the ministry for the first time on Friday.
The purpose of the law is to promote the development of space technologies, but also to mitigate the risks associated with operating in a so far unregulated field. The draft is planned to be completed by the end of 2023, the ministry said.
The field of space has developed very rapidly globally in recent years -- satellites have become cheaper and flight to Earth's orbit has become more and more accessible for companies. However, according to Paul Liias, head of space at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the growing role of business in the space sector brings with it new regulatory challenges that countries have to deal with.
"Private space business is constantly creating new infrastructure for providing services and collecting data in orbit, but the development of the space sector and heavy traffic in Earth's orbits also means the need for regulations that would help ensure cyber protection, environmentally friendly, responsible and sustainable development in space," Liias said.
The space law creates a favorable environment for the growth of high-tech companies in Estonia, but at the same time, the risks arising from operating in space are mitigated for both the state and companies. It is also necessary to fulfill the obligation arising from the UN Outer Space Treaty to regulate private business activities in space.
According to Liias, the Estonian space sector has also made a significant leap in development and several Estonian companies are planning to launch their space objects into orbit in the coming years, which is why the time is right to draw up a space law. For example, a new satellite is being planned by KappaZeta OU, whose representative Karoli Kahn said that, in order to initiate a mission, it is necessary to know the legal limits of action.
"A law would give developers and operators of space objects the necessary clarity and certainty to start making investments," Kahn added.
The working group will provide input to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, as the drafter of the space law, in order to prepare the most suitable space law for Estonia as a whole. The space law working group includes ministries, sub-agencies and representatives of universities and businesses related to the content of the space law. During the drafting of the bill, additional interest groups and experts from both Estonia and the European Space Agency (ESA) will be involved.