European Navigation Conference took place in Vienna

From April 23, 2013 – April 25, 2013, the European Navigation Conference (ENC) took place at the Austria Center in Vienna. The conference was held under the auspices of the European Group of Institutes of Navigation (EUGIN) and was hosted by the Austrian Institute of Navigation (OVN). The focus of the event was on the present status as well as on future developments in navigation systems, with a special emphasis on Galileo. Researchers, policy makers, manufacturers, users and service providers from around the world participated in the event.

For more information see the webpage of the venue

Legal Subcommittee of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space

From 8 to 19 April 2013, the fifty-second session of the Legal Subcommittee (LSC) of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space was held in Vienna.

The text of the set of recommendations on national legislation relevant to the peaceful exploration and use of outer space could be agreed upon and was adopted by the Legal Subcommittee. This result could be achieved thanks to the efforts of Prof. Marboe, chair of the Working group on national space legislation between 2008 and 2012, and the chairman of the LSC, Tare Brisibe (Nigeria), as well as UNOOSA acting as the secretariat of the session, most importantly though Niklas Hedman and his team. The text will be considered for adoption by the Main Committee in June 2013 and later by the General Assembly at its session this autumn. Further discussions concerned, inter alia, the agenda items “Status and application of the five United Nations treaties on outer space”, “Information on the activities of international intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations relating to space law”, “Capacity-building in space law” and “Review of international mechanisms for cooperation in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space”. Under this latter item, Prof. Setsuko Aoki (Japan) was elected as the chair of the working group for the workplan 2014 to 2017.

For more information on the work of the session see the Draft Report of the Subcommittee and addenda

"Energie und Physik Spezial: Österreichs Augen im All – Das Brite-Projekt"

Austria’s eyes in Outer Space – The Brite project

On April 22, 2013, the TV channel ALPHA transmitted a documentary about the Austrian mission BRITE and addressed various questions concerning the two satellites „TUGSAT-1“ und „UniBRITE“launched on 25 February 2013, including issues in relation to the Austrian Outer Space Act which had been codified for this purposes.

For more information in German see

Austria launches first two satellites

On February 25, 2013, at 1:31 pm CET, Austria’s first two satellites, UniBRITE and BRITE-AUSTRIA/TUGSAT-1, were launched into their designated orbit by an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket. The two satellites will investigate the brightness oscillations of massive luminous stars by differential photometry.

For more information on the launch event held in Vienna and further information on the mission see

For information on the mission provided for by the Graz University of Technology see

Austrian Outer Space Act entered into force

On 28 December 2011 the Austrian Federal Law on the Authorisation of Space Activities and the Establishment of a National Registry (Austrian Outer Space Act) entered into force after its publication in the Federal Law Gazette I No 132. The planned launch of two Austrian satellites (Brite Austria Mission Tugsat 1 & UniBRITE) raised the question whether the existing legal framework in Austria was sufficient to deal with the specificities of space activities. The Austrian entities involved felt that there was a need to accompany the project with all its legal aspects. For this purpose, they approached the Austrian National Point of Contact for Space Law (NPOC) of the European Centre for Space Law (ECSL) which had been founded in 2001 by Prof. Christian Brünner at the University of Graz. In early 2009, the author of the present article as the then director of the NPOC Space Law Austria was entrusted by the Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology to write a first draft of an Austrian space law. After two and a half years of negotiations which involved a considerable number of ministries, the draft was accepted by the Council of Ministers on 11 October 2011 as a proposal for consideration by the Austrian parliament.

With its only 17 articles, the Law is relatively short but is meant to be a comprehensive act which deals with all the legal aspects connected to space activities, such as authorisation, supervision, registration, liability, insurance, transfer of the space object as well as enforcement and sanctions. The relatively short length corresponds to the hitherto modest independent Austrian space activities, primarily dedicated to science, research and education. Nevertheless, the act is also designed for commercial space activities which might become more important in the future and, this is rather unusual, also for governmental space activities. In the drafting and negotiation process, under the lead of the Federal Ministry there was a general desire among the different ministries involved to establish a transparent system and a guaranteed flow of information between the different federal and territorial entities as far as prospective space activities are concerned. Furthermore, building up of the relevant knowhow as regards, in particular, authorisation and supervision was regarded as a challenge that could best be met by covering all kinds of Austrian space activities in the future.

Particular emphasis has been put on the mitigation of space debris. Small satellites are a very attractive option for newcomers as they are becoming technically more accessible and cheaper. Nevertheless, the responsibility of the States in this respect is more pertinent than ever before. States have the duty to avoid that small satellite projects, as laudable and welcome they are, do not harm large and expensive space activities which are of vital interest to the world population at large.

Thus, the new Austrian Outer Space Act covers a variety of issues connected to both international obligations of Austria in accordance with the five UN space treaties but also takes into account the particular needs of space activities being carried out by Austrian operators which for the moment encompass mainly educational and research purposes.

German version of the law

English version

Explanatory Report

Conference on Connecting Academics and UN Practitioners

From 28 February to 1 March 2011, the Academic Council of the United Nations System (ACUNS) organized a “Conference on Connecting Academics and UN Practitioners” at the premises of the United Nations in Vienna. More than 300 participants from 24 countries attended the conference. One panel was dedicated to the work of the United Nations in relation to the use and exploration of outer space.

The former Austrian ambassador Walther Lichem moderated and opened the session. Presentations were given by Sergei Chernikov (OOSA), who gave an overview of the history, mission, structure, work and achievements of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) as well as of the UN Committee for the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) and its Technical and Scientific Subcommittee, and Irmgard Marboe (University of Vienna), who addressed political and legal dimensions of outer space activities and discussed some of the most important legal texts on outer space elaborated in the framework of UNCOPUOS.

Both presentations were published in the Favorita Papers 01/2011 “Academics Meet UN Practicioners: An Encounter in Vienna”, edited by the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna.

ACUNS 23rd Annual Meeting, 3 – 5 June 2010


The Academic Council of the United Nations held its 23rd meeting in Vienna

Theme: New Security Challenges

The NPOC Space Law Austria, Irmgard Marboe, contributed to the theme “New Security Challenges”, by participating on a space security workshop panel.

Workshop Panel – Space Security

CHAIR: Peter Jankowitsch, Austrian Foreign Ministry (ret’d)


Militarization of Outer Space: Present and Future Challenges from the International Legal Perspective
Irmgard Marboe, University of Vienna

Transparency and Conference-Building Measures for Space Security
Jana Robinson, European Space Policy Institute

The Role of OOSA in Promoting Security in Outer Space
Niklas Hedman, Chief of the Committee Services and Research Section

Asteroid Threats: A Call for Global Responses
Walther Lichem, Austrian Foreign Ministry, (ret’d)


Enhancing global security through space the role of COPUOS and UNOOSA, Niklas Hedman, UNOOSA

Militarization of outer space: present and future challenges, Prof. Irmgard Marboe, University of Vienna

Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures (TCBM) For Space Security, Jana Robinson Resident Fellow, ESPI

The institutional dimension of asteroid threat mitigation, Walther Lichem

Introductory remarks, Peter Jankowitsch

Program and further information

35. Österreichischer Völkerrechtstag 27. – 29. Mai 2010

Im Rahmen des 35. Österreichischen Völkerrechtstag stand unter anderem Weltraumrecht im Fokus.

Die Vorträge und Diskussionen befassten sich mit aktuellen Fragestellungen zu den geplanten Weltraumaktivitäten
der TU Graz und Wien und den Perspektiven und Vorarbeiten für ein dadurch notwendig gewordenen österreichisches Weltraumgesetz,
an dem auch Prof. Irmgard Marboe wesentlich beteiligt ist.

PANEL WELTRAUM – TUGSAT, BRITE AT und ein österreichisches Weltraumgesetz

: Univ. -Prof. Dr. Bruno Simma, Richter am IGH, Den Haag

  • Ao.Univ.-Prof. Dr. Irmgard Marboe, Universität Wien
  • Mag. Boris Levtchev, Wiss.Mitarbeiter Universität Salzburg
  • Ao.Univ.Prof. Mag. Dr. Sigmar Stadlmeier, LL.M. (London), Universität Linz

Schematic overview of national regulatory frameworks for space activities
National space legislation – regulative categories

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