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International Institute of Space Law

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Issue 2, 2018 Expand all abstracts

    The growth of private launch service providers in the United States stems from choices made by legislators and policy-makers that, whether intentional or not, created a market for these launch services. The first of these choices was made in 1985 when President Reagan issued an executive order allowing NASA to use the Space Shuttle to deliver commercial satellites into orbit only if the satellite required the “unique capabilities” of the Shuttle. As a result, the need for launch services for satellites that did not meet this standard quickly grew and private industry soon began filling this need. The demand for private launch services became even greater when, in 1988, President Reagan issued another directive requiring government agencies to use commercial launch service providers “to the fullest extent feasible.” When the last operational Space Shuttle, the Atlantis, was retired in 2011, the U.S. government no longer had an operational launch vehicle that could reach the International Space Station. Not wanting to rely on foreign spacecraft and wanting to spur the further growth of private industry, NASA launched programs to encourage the development of private launch services to deliver crew and cargo to the ISS. These programs resulted in the rapid development of multiple private launch service providers that now compete to deliver cargo and crew to the ISS. This paper will explain the role that these policies played in the evolution of the U.S. launch service industry and whether the adoption of the US approach is appropriate for other countries where the governmental space programs and related private industry are quite different from the space program and private industry of the United States.


Mark J. Sundahl
Cleveland State University. m.sundahl@csuohio.edu.
Article

Public Procurement Rules, Forms of Financing and Their Impact on Competition in the Space Field

A General Overview with a Focus on the Italian Legislative Framework and Its Practical Implementation

Authors Marina Gagliardi, Giorgio Garagnani, Nicoletta Bini e.a.
Author's information

Marina Gagliardi
Italian Space Agency.

Giorgio Garagnani
Italian Space Agency.

Nicoletta Bini
Italian Space Agency.

Cristina Marabottini
Italian Space Agency.

Anna Veneziano
Prof. Anna Veneziano, Deputy Secretary-General, International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (Unidroit).

Hamza Hameed
Mr. Hamza Hameed, Legal Consultant, International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (Unidroit).

    In 2017, more than $3.9 billion of private capital was invested in commercial space companies. This represents, in a single year, more than half of the total amount of private investment during the preceding five years. The private space sector has also witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of investor participants. The industry continues to expand, and analysts predict that it will grow to a multi-trillion dollar industry in the next two decades. The industry is also witnessing rapidly falling launch prices – and as launch prices drop, the barrier to enter space also decreases. In addition to facilitating the expansion of existing space-based businesses, such as telecommunications and Earth observation, greater access to outer space opens the door for new entrants into fields such as space manufacturing, mining and tourism.
    Almost half of all investment in space companies since the year 2000, the vast majority of which was made within the last six years, has been from venture capital (“VC”) firms. VC investors seek eventually to monetize their investment by exiting through a sale of the company to a third party (usually an existing space industry player, but sometimes to another financial buyer) or through an initial public offering. Acquisitions by industry competitors are particularly common in the satellite sector, where established incumbents often look for outside innovation (for example, Terra Bella’s acquisition by Planet or DigitalGlobe’s acquisition by MDA). Furthermore, space activities are very costly, but benefit from economies of scale – evidenced by joint ventures between Lockheed and Boeing (United Launch Alliance) and between Airbus and Safran.
    In light of the increasing frequency of mergers and acquisitions (“M&A”) deal making in the space industry, this paper will examine publicly disclosed acquisition agreements governing certain prior deals in the industry in order to draw conclusions about the unique risks faced by commercial space acquirers and how they have sought to mitigate such risks. From diligence considerations to key terms of the acquisition agreements (such as the representations and warranties), this paper will provide practical insight into the most important considerations for private deals in this growing and rapidly changing industry.


Brendan Cohen
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, United States, bcohen@cgsh.com.

Cécile Gaubert
Gaubert Law Firm.

    The aim of this paper is to present an overview of the assessment undertaken by the DG Competition of the European Commission on a series of merger and acquisition cases occurring in the space sector in the last 25 years. Not only do the decisions of the DG Competition record the evolution of the major actors in the space sector in Europe but they also demonstrate how the DG Competition of the European Commission has acknowledged the regulatory contribution of the European Space Agency to the creation and growth of the industrial landscape of the space sector in Europe. The paper is not meant to be a scholarly contribution to the analysis of EU competition law. It is, instead, a fact-finding exercise seen from the perspective of ESA’s industrial policy.


Marco Ferrazzani
European Space Agency (ESA), Legal Counsel and Head of Legal Services Department.

Ioanna Thoma
European Space Agency (ESA),Legal Officer.

    From the inception of European integration, a regime trying to regulate and arrange competition as much as considered necessary for the benefit of society at large has been one of the core elements of the European Union’s legal order. While the European Union has over the past few decades become more and more involved in the European space effort, this has so far hardly given rise to fundamental application of this competition regime to space activities, even if space also in Europe increasingly has become commercialized and privatized. The current paper investigates the reasons and rationale for this special situation, addressing inter alia the special character of outer space activities and the space industry and the role of the European Space Agency in this respect.


Frans G. von der Dunk
University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Article

Mitigation of Anti-Competitive Behaviour in Telecommunication Satellite Orbits and Management of Natural Monopolies

Keywords anti-competitive conduct, constellation satellites, monopoly
Authors Thomas Green, Patrick Neumann and Kent Grey
AbstractAuthor's information

    Previous activities in developing satellite networks for telecommunications such as the TelStar, Relay and Syncom satellite networks of the early 1960s through to the Iridium, Globalstar and ORBCOMM constellations of the 1990s were reserved to geostationary orbits and low orbits with less than 100 satellites comprising their network. These satellite networks distinguished themselves by being business-to-government and business-tobusiness facing by contracting with government and domestic carriage and media providers for the supply of services. Customers for these services did not constitute either small to medium sized businesses, or individuals in the general public.
    With the advent of what has been dubbed ‘NewSpace’, however, new entrants into the market are developing constellation satellite networks that operate in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Unlike the legacy satellite telecommunication networks of the 1960s-1990s, these constellation satellite networks are focused on, amongst other things, Internet of Things (IOT) devices, asset management and tracking, Wi-Fi hot-spotting, backhaul networking and contracting with small businesses and the general public.
    Regional examples of these new telecommunication heavyweights include Fleet Space Technologies (Fleet) - an Australian company undertaking to launch 100 satellites into LEO, Sky and Space Global (SAS) - an Australian-British-Israeli consortium that intends to provide a constellation of 200 small satellites, OneWeb’s planned fleet of 650 satellites that may be expanded to 2,000 satellites, and, SpaceX’s planned StarLink network of 12,000 satellites. In addition, companies such as Spire and PlanetLabs intend to provide geospatial information through their own constellation networks to government and educational institutions alongside the private sector.
    Although propertisation of space and celestial bodies is prohibited under the Outer Space Treaty 1967 (UN), near-Earth orbits still remain rivalrous and commercially lucrative. By operating in a LEO environment, these satellite constellation networks have the potential to exclude competing services by new entrants to market. For example, where one constellation network has an orbital plane or orbital shell, another constellation may not be able to have the same orbital plane or orbital shell.
    Presently, the literature to date focuses on the allocation of spectrum bandwidth, and space traffic management with a focus on orbital debris mitigation. This paper addresses these concerns and offers recommendations on how the risk of ‘natural’ monopolies forming for specific constellation satellite networks in LEO may be mitigated under instruments available to both UNOOSA and the ITU.


Thomas Green
(Corresponding author), Neumann Space Pty Ltd, 1/41 Wood Avenue, Brompton 5007 South Australia, tom@neumannspace.com.

Patrick Neumann
Neumann Space Pty Ltd, 1/41 Wood Avenue, Brompton 5007 South Australia.

Kent Grey
b Partner, Minter Ellison, 25 Grenfell Street, Adelaide 5000 Australia, kent.grey@minterellison.com.
Article

The Belt and Road Initiative (B&R) Provides Opportunity for China to Dominate Space Cooperation in Asia?

An Analysis from the Legal Perspective

Keywords Asian Space Cooperation, B&R Initiative, Competition to Regional Space Dominance, Chinese National Space Legislation, APSCO’s Legal Framework
Authors Mingyan Nie
AbstractAuthor's information

    The co-existence of more than one regional space cooperation entity in Asia presents the competition on the cooperation of space affairs in this territory. Against this background, the Asian space powers take all possible measures to attract more space partners. The Belt&Road Initiative (B&R), which is defined as a comprehensive strategy for China to meet the challenges brought by the globalization, provides opportunities for the space field. However, legal improvements are demanded to be made on both domestic and regional levels for responding to the relevant legal challenges. On the domestic level, the Chinese space regulation which is intended to be formulated before the year of 2020 is recommended to encompass fundamental principles and provisions friendly to non-governmental entities and foreign partners. On the regional level, the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO) is required to transform its role from Chinese platform to compete with its Asian rivals on space cooperation affairs to a co-builder and services provider of the B&R space programs (e.g., the SIC). Accordingly, legal coordination approached to ensure implementing the “co-sharing” principle is needed to be made between APSCO and the SIC sponsor; moreover, APSCO itself must do modifying jobs to improve its legal framework to adapt the requirements of its new role.


Mingyan Nie
Faculty of Law, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

    The majority of the world still does not have access to the internet, and this “digital divide” is not only an issue in developing countries. Unconnected populations exist in every country, and regulators must find ways to provide universal access to the internet. Furthermore, the demand for connectivity (internet and data) is growing exponentially, and existing terrestrial solutions likely will be insufficient. Regulators must foster new technologies such as the newest non-geostationary satellite constellations, which have almost no delay for two-way voice and data connections and can provide broadband to the most remote and unconnected populations and industries. To ensure the fast deployment of these solutions, regulators should support technology-neutral regulations (such as blanket licensing) that encourage speedy rollout of innovative services, as well as have transparent “open skies” policies that promote competition (which has been proven to boost economies).


Ruth Pritchard-Kelly
Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, OneWeb.