As part of the LLM Space Law Masters programme, a Legal Research Project was undertaken in the summer of 2022.
The long-term sustainability for the fledgling U.K. Space Sector:
Are current regulations and legislation fit for purpose?
The UK has recently rekindled its space ambitions with the aim to make the UK Space sector a key part of the economy. At the heart of this push is the desire for a domestic launch capability and new legislation and regulations have recently entered into force with this motivation. In this dissertation we give an overview and update to how the UKs new legislation and regulations take into account international law as well as sustainability issues. We give a high level background on the history of the UK space sector and discuss the international space treaties. We study the Outer Space Treaty to see if it, and in particular Article IX, has any power for 21st century environmentalism. We then turn our focus to the UK domestic legal apparatus for space law, and in particular the Space Industry Act 2018 and the several statutory instruments that have come into force under this new Act. We ask if the new legislation and regulations are fit for purpose when it comes to space sustainability. We find, through the evidence of two Case Studies, that although the Act gives provisions for sustainable practices, it is unclear at this stage whether the Space Industry Regulations on their own have the ability to encourage and enforce sustainable behaviour. We offer broad suggestions on ways forward for the UK space sector noting the space industry can be hypocritical and can often suffer from ‘navel gazing’ and ’greenwashing.’
September 1, 2022