ECSL Summer Course on Space Law and Policy 2017

The 2017 ECSL Summer Course on Space Law and Policy will take place at the at the Sapienza University in Rome, Italy from 4th  to 15th of September 2017.

Application Deadline:  30 June 2017

Interested candidates should send the completed Application Form as well as their CV (maximum 2 pages) to:

National Point of Contact for Space Law Austria
Prof. Irmgard Marboe
Institut für Europarecht, Internationales Recht und Rechtsvergleichung
Universität Wien, Rechtswissenschaftliche Fakultät
Schottenbastei 10-16, Stiege 2, 5. Stock
1010 Wien

More information about the Summer Course as well as the application form can be obtained on the ECSL website.

NPOC Evening Event “Planetary Defence: Technical, Legal and Economic Aspects” 2 February 2017

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.

Further information on the event can be found here.

ECSL Events 2017

The following events will be organised by the European Centre for Space Law (ECSL) for students and young professionals in 2017:

Practitioners’ Forum on “Legal and Regulatory Aspects of Mega-Constellations” (17 March 2017):

Young Lawyers’ Symposium (18 March 2017):

Student Insight Day (23 March 2017, deadline to register 17 March): (Flyer)

Information on other ECSL events such as student get-togethers, colloquia and national industry events, will be posted on the ECSL website when information is available:

NPOC Symposium 11 June 2016

The ECSL National Point of Contact for Space Law Austria in cooperation 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”.

The symposium took place at the margins of the 59th session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space on 11 June 2016 at the University of Vienna Faculty of Law.

New Publication: “Small Satellites – Regulatory Challenges and Chances”

The publication “Small Satellites – Regulatory Challenges and Chances” edited by Professor Irmgard Marboe addresses the booming phenomenon of small satellites. The rapid innovation of technology has made it possible to develop, launch and operate small satellites at rather low cost. Universities, start-ups and also governments see the chance to access outer space more easily and inexpensively. Yet, the importance to comply with existing rules and regulations that are in place to ensure that outer space is used and explored in a safe and responsible manner is sometimes overlooked. The book addresses this challenge and shows how it can be met. The contributors are renowned academics and practitioners from many different countries that share their experiences and insights and suggest practical Solutions.

Title:                     Small Satellites – Regulatory Challenges and Chances
Editor:                 Professor Irmgard Marboe
Publisher:          Brill/Martinus Nijhoff
Series:                  Studies in Space Law 11
Series Editor:   Frans G. von der Dunk
ISBN:                    9789004312227
Publication:       March 2016

For more information see

Preparatory Meeting for High Level Fora on ‘Space as a Driver for Socioeconomic Sustainable Development’ took place in Vienna

The Preparatory Meeting for a series of High Level Fora on the topic ‘Space as a Driver for Socioeconomic Sustainable Development’ was organised by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs on 19 November 2015 at the Vienna International Centre. It brought together decision-makers from governments and space agencies as well as other high-ranking officials.

The series of High Level Fora will be organised from 2016 to 2018 for the preparation of the UNISPACE+50 event. This event will take place in 2018 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first UNISPACE conference, which was held in Vienna in 1968. The fora will offer the opportunity to address the economic, environmental, social, policy and regulatory dimensions of space for global sustainable development.

The Preparatory Meeting was centred upon the four pillars of Space Economy, Space Society, Space Accessibility and Space Diplomacy. These pillars will also guide the series of High Level Fora and the preparations for the UNISPACE +50 event.

More information can be found on the website of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.

Conference “US and European Geospatial Data Policies”

On 17 June 2015, the NPOC Space Law Austria together with the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI) organised an evening event on the topic “US and European Geospatial Data Policies”.

The collection of data by Earth observation satellites represents an increasingly important application of space technology, both in the US and in Europe. In the EU, the Copernicus program is being established to provide services in the fields of atmosphere-, marine- and land-monitoring, climate change, emergency management and security. In the US, the Land Remote-Sensing Satellite System (Landsat) is operational since 1972, but also other satellites are used for Earth Observation.

An important characteristics of the EU data policy is that it adheres to the concept of an ‘open data-policy’ and is also committed to the protection of several other rights and principles, such as the right for private life, the protection of personal data and of intellectual property. The US has already for a long time applied the principle of free access and free re-use of information. Yet, the protection of privacy, civil rights and liberties, and national security interests plays also an important role.

The event was moderated by David Kendall, incoming Chair of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space for 2016/17. The conference was organised with the financial support of Austrospace.



  • Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz: Professor Emerita and Director Emerita of the National Center for Remote Sensing, Air, and Space Law of the University of Mississippi School of Law, Journal of Space Law Editor-in-Chief Emerita
  • Irmgard Marboe: Professor of Public International Law at the University of Vienna, Director of the NPOC Space Law Austria


Two new topics on the agenda of the UNCOPUOS Legal Subcommittee: Space traffic management and small satellites

During the 54th session of the Legal Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, which took place from 13-24 April 2015 in Vienna, member States agreed to put the topics of space traffic management and small satellites on the agenda of the next session of the Subcommittee.

Space traffic management is a set of technical and regulatory provisions ensuring safe access into, operations in and return from outer space to Earth. Due to the rising number of actors in outer space and the continuous increase in outer space activities this topic is currently attracting more and more attention. The increase in space actors and activities leads to a deterioration of safety in outer space and threatens the long-term sustainability of outer space activities. Therefore, comprehensive regulations, including effective implementation and control mechanisms, are needed to enhance the safety and security of space activities on the long term.

Similarly, the increase in small satellite activities also makes an examination of associated regulations necessary. Small satellites have become more and more popular in recent years, as technological development has made it possible to build, launch and operate satellites at rather low cost, thus opening new opportunities for developing countries, research institutions and small business start-ups to engage in space activities. However, in order to ensure the safe and responsible use of outer space, it is necessary to be aware of the need to include small satellite missions appropriately in the scope of application of national and international regulatory frameworks.

In this context, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) have recently elaborated an information hand-out on topics such as registration, authorization, debris mitigation and frequency management of small satellites.

With the decision to address the legal issues relating to space traffic management and small satellites in the Legal Subcommittee, COPUOS member States can work towards enhancing the safety of space operations for the benefit of all.

Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court

In 2014, for the second time, an Austrian team participated at the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court. The European Rounds were held from 14 to 17 May 2014 at Wroclaw University in Wroclaw, Poland. The two students – Isolde Klinger und Tom Svedberg – were chosen in October 2013 out of several applications to represent the University of Vienna. The case dealt with the legal responsibility for interferences in frequencies that are used for the positioning and communication of satellites. The Austrian team was able to qualify for the semi-finals in the European Rounds and was only beaten by the winners of the finals, the team of the University of Paris XI.