An important part of the work of the NPOC Austria is the organisation of conferences on space law-related topics. Information on recent conferences can be found here.
The UN/Austria Symposium “Space Applications for Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action” took place as an online event from 1-3 September 2020.
During the Symposium international experts discussed how space technologies can support climate action. Climate action is one of the most pressing priorities for action within the Sustainable Development Goals framework. Space technologies can contribute significantly to global efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
The Symposium showcased concrete climate action cases through the demonstration of applications using space solutions. Users of space technologies presented lessons learnt and experts discussed the role of space applications in climate-related policies. A range of different presentation formats were used to highlight various aspects of space applications for climate action, including best practices and demonstrations of solutions and services available for developing countries.
Specific policy discussions enabled the exchange of experiences and know-how on how to incorporate space applications and tools for climate action in environmental policy. The overarching objective of the Symposium was to offer users, with particular focus on developing countries, an opportunity to explore tools, policies, and approaches that could be adopted in their respective regional, national or local context.
More information can be found on the website of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.
The United Nations/Austria World Space Forum on the topic “Access to Space4All” took place at the Vienna International Centre in Vienna, Austria, from 18 to 22 November 2019. Building on the series of three High-Level Fora which were organized between 2016 and 2018 in relation to the UNISPACE+50 anniversary event, the World Space Forum in Vienna was the first in a new series of events. The Forum focused on the advancement of the “Space2030” Agenda and aimed at enabling continuous dialogue among the global space community on the topics of space economy, space society, space accessibility and space diplomacy. More information can be found on the website of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.
The 25th edition of the UN/Austria Symposium took place from 2 to 4 September 2019 in Graz under the title “Space: A tool for Accessibility, Diplomacy and Cooperation”. During the Symposium, presentations, panel discussions, workshops and demo sessions aimed at providing a view of how space can function as a tool for cooperation and diplomacy as well as of how the use of space data and technology can be enhanced. Due to the success of the multidisciplinary approach adopted during the two previous Symposia, in 2019 the focus was again not only on space science and technology but also on space law and policy. More information can be found on the website of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.
On 12 February 2019 the NPOC Space Law Austria organized together with the Secure World Foundation the event “Guidelines for the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities: Implementation Experiences and Challenges” on the margins of the 56th session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of UNCOPUOS. During its mandate from 2011-2018, the Working Group on the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities reached agreement on the texts of a Preamble and 21 Guidelines. The panel event focused on the implementation plans, experiences and challenges of a number of States with different levels of technical and regulatory capabilities in the space domain. States and Permanent Observers were invited to share their thoughts and experiences regarding the implementation of the Guidelines at the event.
From 17 to 19 September 2018, the NPOC Space Law organized together with UNOOSA and the Graz University of Technology the UN/Austria Symposium “Space for the Sustainable Development Goals: Stronger partnerships and strengthened cooperation for 2030 and beyond”. In presentations, panel discussions and workshops, the importance of space technology, applications and activities for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals was examined. Due to the success of the multidisciplinary approach adopted during last year’s Symposium, in 2018 the focus of the Symposium was again not only on space technology but also on space law and policy.
On 13 April 2018 the ECSL National Point of Contact for Space Law Austria organized the Event: “The Hague International Space Resources Governance Working Group – Discussion on the 19 Draft Building Blocks” at the Vienna International Centre.
After a welcome and introduction by Professor Irmgard Marboe, head of the NPOC Space Law Austria, Dr Giuseppe Reibaldi, Executive Secretary of the Hague International Space Resources Governance Working Group, gave a general overview of the main objectives, the membership and the structure of the Working Group. The Working Group has been created as a forum to discuss legal questions regarding the use of space resources found on asteroids and other celestial bodies and to prepare the ground for future negotiations of an international agreement or non-legally binding instrument. The Working Group platform is a Consortium serviced by a Secretariat. The Consortium is made up of partners from around the world such as the Institute of Air and Space Law at Leiden University, the Catholic University of Santos and the Centre for Resources, Energy and Environmental Law at the University of Melbourne. The members of the Working Group are major stakeholders from government, industry, universities and research centres. They form the operative body of the Working Group and are responsible for making the decisions. The number of members to the Working Group is limited to 35. Currently there are 28 members in the Working Group. The Working Group also consists of observers, who are professionals directly involved in space resources issues. There are currently 45 observers to the Working Group and this number is consistently increasing. In a first phase (January 2016–December 2017) 19 Draft Building Blocks for the governance of space resource activities were formulated by the Working Group as a basis for negotiations on an international framework. During a second phase (January 2018–December 2019) inclusive consultations are held on the Draft Building Blocks and the need and form of any future mechanism for the governance of space resource activities are explored.
Professor Olavo de Oliveira Bittencourt Neto of the Catholic University of Santos, Brazil, who is Vice-Chair of the Working Group, presented some important features of the 19 Draft Building Blocks. The Building Blocks propose definitions of key terms, such as space resource and space resource activity, as well as an objective and scope of a potential international framework on space resource activities. They also suggest provisions regarding international responsibility for space resource activities and jurisdiction over space products, access to and utilization of space resources, technical standards for space resource activities, the sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of space resources, avoidance of harmful impacts resulting from space resource activities, registration and notification requirements as well as liability and settlement of disputes.
Sagi Kfir, general counsel, vice president of policy and co-founder at Deep Space Industries, who is a member of the Working Group, presented the industry perspective. For the second phase of the Working Group’s activities a Technical Panel was created. It is composed of universities, space agencies and industry representatives. The Panel’s main objective is to discuss current and future technical questions related to the governance of space resource activities, such as which kind of technology is needed for different kinds of celestial bodies. The Panel will provide input to the Working Group allowing it to verify the validity of the Building Blocks under discussion. A very positive aspect of industry involvement is that many experts with specific technical knowledge in the field of resource mining can contribute to the work of the Technical Panel. An initial report of the Panel will be finalized in April.
The presentations were followed by a lively discussion with the audience, including UNCOPUOS members and observers, academia, experts, industry representatives and others.
From 3 to 7 September 2017, the NPOC Space Law Austria organized together with UNOOSA and the Technical University Graz the Symposium “Access to Space: Holistic Capacity Building for the 21st Century“ in preparation of the anniversary celebrations of UNISPACE+50.
In eight panel discussions as well as several workshops, the topic capacity building was examined from different perspectives, whereby the focus was not only on capacity building in the area of space technology but, for the first time in the long-standing history of the UN/Austria Symposium, also in the area of space law.
More information on the Symposium can be found under:
The NPOC Space Law Austria organised an evening event on the topic Planetary Defence: Technical, Legal and Economic Aspects on 2 February 2017 at the Natural History Museum Vienna.
Every day approximately 100 tons of cosmic material reaches the Earth. Most of it in the form of dust or small rocks, which burn up as meteors in the atmosphere. Sometimes, however, larger objects, asteroids or comets, enter the Earth’s atmosphere, which can cause considerable damage. The asteroid that exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in February 2013 had a diameter of only 17–20 meters, yet it produced a blast wave that damaged more than 7000 buildings and injured over 1600 persons. The impact of a larger object could thus potentially cause a serious catastrophe on Earth.
Therefore, scientists are continuously searching for so called Near-Earth Objects (NEOs), asteroids and comets, which could come dangerously close to Earth and pose a risk of causing severe damage. Moreover, scientists are working on various concepts for deflecting these objects. During the event, three international experts discussed the technical, legal and economic aspects of planetary defence.
Dr Line Drube from the Institute of Planetary Research at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) gave an introduction to the NEO impact threat, deflection concepts, and the work done by the United Nations Space Mission Planning Advisory Group in this regard.
Prof Dr Frans von der Dunk, Professor of Space Law at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, College of Law, presented an overview of the legal aspects of planetary defence. He discussed such major issues as a responsibility to protect, liability for damage caused by planetary defence activities, institutional issues involved in global responses to NEO threats, the use of kinetic force including, as a last resort, nuclear force, and the possible involvement of the private sector in discovery and deflection activities.
Egon Döberl, CEO of the Austrian company ASA Astrosysteme, spoke about the economic aspects of planetary defence. Today fully robotic telescope systems can be used for the search and observation of NEOs. Mr Döberl presented the history, future and economic aspects of such telescope systems from the point of view of an entrepreneur.
Prof Dr Frans von der Dunk: Avoiding the fate of the dinosaurs with the help of lawyers? – Legal aspects of planetary defence
On 11 June 2016, the ECSL National Point of Contact for Space Law Austria, together with the Beijing Institute of Technology – Institute of Space Law, and the George Washington University Space Policy Institute organised a symposium entitled “Looking to the Future: Changing International Relations and Legal Issues Facing Space Activities” at the Law Faculty of the University of Vienna. Three panels of renowned international experts discussed trends and developments in international relations, space law and changing private sector pressures, and legal responses to space sustainability. The symposium was organised at the margins of the fifty-ninth session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space which took place from 8 – 17 June 2016 in Vienna.
Session One: Trends and Developments in International Relations
Moderator: Irmgard Marboe
- Susanne Weigelin-Schwiedrzik, University of Vienna
- Marco Aliberti, European Space Policy Institute
- Zhenjun Zhang, China Institute of Space Law
Session Two: Space Law and Changing Private Sector and International Pressures –
Can Legal Principles of a Half-Century Ago Still Prevail?
Moderator: Henry Hertzfeld
- Pascale Ehrenfreund, German Aerospace Center
- Ivan Kosenkov, Skolkovo
- Michael Simpson, Secure World Foundation
Session Three: Space Sustainability – Legal Responses
Moderator: Li Shouping
- Peter Hulsroj, European Space Policy Institute
- Diane Howard, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University