The Space Law Review: Editor's Preface

The first edition of The Space Law Review has received excellent feedback from private practitioners, academics and students around the world, whether viewed in hard copy or on The Law Reviews' website.

This year The Space Law Review has expanded to include contributions from Pinheiro Neto Advogados in Brazil and Sarin & Co in India, and a chapter on taxation from Slaughter and May in the UK. Further contributions will be added to the online edition during the next year.

I am grateful for the time and dedication of the lawyers who have contributed to this second edition, and for embracing space law as a practice area. But space law is not simply one practice area – it consists of layers of interrelated disciplines and dimensions that lawyers need to apply and be alert to, such as: telecommunications; Earth observation; navigation; security and defence; data management; international relations; radio frequency spectrum; technology; national, regional and international laws and regulations; and corporate, finance and taxation. It requires bright, flexible and solutions-driven minds.

The importance of The Space Law Review will grow each year as the value of the space domain and applications from space activities increases and, as such applications of satellite technology are brought into use and the commercial revenues from the industry are recognised. Lawyers will be required to understand the international treaties, how they are enforced and applied in national law and apply such laws, regulations and policies, potentially creatively, to new applications and technologies (civil and military) and new business models.

Private practice in space law in 2020 is coming of age. Space is mainstream now and part of everyone's lives. We have all experienced more change in 2020 than most of us have ever recognised with the onset of covid-19 and the impact it has had on our lives. We have relied on satellite technology for communications, for healthcare (advice, distribution of medicines and for the identification of illness), for education, for information and entertainment, and for simple social interaction more than ever. The importance of the space and satellite industry to our everyday lives has rarely been more important.

The economic benefits from the space sector are being recognised by states. The global space economy is expected to be worth £40 billion by 2030. The productivity of the space sector tends to be much larger than national averages and the jobs more highly skilled.

New and innovative technologies increasingly derive from private commercial activities rather than the more traditional government-funded missions. States are liable and responsible for national activities in outer space and therefore seek to supervise and authorise such activities through national legislation and licensing mechanisms, which we are seeing more of across the globe.

New technology, such as constellations of several thousands of satellites, in-orbit servicing, high-resolution Earth observation data and new small-launcher technology, is testing regulatory and insurance frameworks, and presenting challenges to regulators that must work closely with industry, ideally using anticipatory and outcome-focused regulation, to govern such activities. We are seeing new insurance models and financial security concepts being considered by regulators in the granting of launch and operations licences.

Effective national regulation, enabling innovation and investment, is an increasingly important source of competitive advantage globally. We are witnessing more regulatory forum shopping than ever before in the space industry. Regulators are required to achieve a balance between: (1) managing government risk and liability, compliance with international obligations, safety, security and the sustainable use of and access to space; and (2) encouraging commercialisation, innovation and growth, the benefits to society of new technology and attractiveness to foreign investment.

What is being recognised is the importance of effective national regulation as an enabler for new and innovative satellite technology and the ability to raise finance.

Thank you again to the contributors of The Space Law Review. I hope that readers enjoy this edition and recognise the unique value and benefit that the international space industry can bring us, especially during challenging times.

Joanne Wheeler MBE
Alden Legal Limited
October 2020

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