“It is important that the rules are crystal clear”

It was 40 years ago last – but now it’s time for Sweden to get a new space law. More actors, a changed security situation and commercial spaceflight have called for the need for the bill.

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For over a year, the government’s special investigator Göran Lundahl has been investigating the new bill that was presented today. The need for a new law is justified by more actors and changes in the area in the future.

– It has been assumed that states safeguard space activities, but we have a reality where more and more private players enter the market and more and more states become space nations, says investigator Göran Lundahl at a press conference.

The space issues that are relevant today are completely different from 1982, when the current space law, only six paragraphs long, came into being in the shadow of the Cold War.

More actors

When the law from 1982 was written, space activities were a state matter for a few countries. Today, space is commercially highly interesting.

– The need for a new space law can be summed up in two words: private actors. Today, space is basically available to everyone. So if you want to conduct commercial space operations in Sweden, it is very important that the rules are crystal clear, in terms of, for example, liability insurance and damages if something should happen, said Christer Nilsson, Deputy Director General at the Swedish Space Agency recently to TT.

Another important aspect is that Sweden must be able to protect its security interests in space.

This means that the relevant authorities – the Swedish Space Agency in consultation with Säpo and the Armed Forces – must be able to check that permits for space operations from Swedish territory are not used to disrupt or damage vital Swedish functions and that permits can be suspended if required, Christer Nilsson explains.

What is space?

To make a new space law, there must be a definition of where space begins and air ends. The dividing line between aviation and space travel has become increasingly difficult to draw, says Göran Lundahl, but the investigation has come around this by defining what is an “space object”.

– A space object is a payload, sounding rocket or launch vehicle including parts of these at an altitude of 100 kilometers above sea level. If you add the definition of 100 kilometers, you take height because most people agree that you are in space, says Lundahl.

Permit requirements with safety valve

Both private and state actors must apply for a permit to conduct space activities in Sweden, according to the proposal for the new Space Act.

Those who prepare permit applications are proposed to be the Swedish Space Agency. They also become the supervisory authority, which is motivated by the fact that they have the highest competence in the cases. Authorities linked to the Ministry of Defense shall be granted an exemption from applying for a permit.

The consultation authorities are the Armed Forces, the Security Police and the Inspectorate for Strategic Products (ISP). They can initiate supervisory matters and appeal decisions.

When a decision is appealed, it ends up in court in the first instance, but it must also be possible to leave the question on the government’s table if a security policy-sensitive situation should arise.

The law is proposed to enter into force on 1 January 2023.

Facts: Space is for everyone

The activities in space are regulated by the Space Treaty with supplementary agreements, which have been negotiated within the UN.

The Space Treaty (1967) states, among other things, that space is for everyone and that no state may claim celestial bodies, or prevent others from exploring them. Occupation of, for example, the moon is thus a violation of the treaty.

The Rescue Agreement (1968) is an agreement to rescue astronauts from other countries upon return to Earth if necessary.

The Convention on Damages (1972) establishes a strict liability with liability for damage caused by spacecraft and other objects that fall to the ground.

The Registration Convention (1975) entails an obligation to notify the UN in advance of the launch of objects in space.

The Moon Agreement (1979) stipulates that the moon and other celestial bodies may only be used for peaceful purposes. Nuclear weapons must not be placed in orbits around the moon.

Source: NE

Source: Nyteknik – Senaste nytt by www.nyteknik.se.

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