Conference "Small Satellites: Chances and Challenges"


On 29 March 2014 the NPOC Space Law Austria organised a conference entitled “Small Satellites: Chances and Challenges” at the Faculty of Law of the University of Vienna. The conference was dedicated to the practical, legal and economic perspectives of the increasing use of small satellites.

Small satellites have become more and more popular in recent years. The development of technology has made it possible to build, launch and operate satellites at rather low costs. They are attractive for research and educational institutions, they provide opportunities for local and small business startups, and are a welcome way for developing or emerging countries of engaging in space activities. However, there is sometimes the misunderstanding that such low-cost satellite missions are not as relevant as large space programmes and as mere “Amateur” activities not subject to the same strict conditions and other criteria. Yet, international space law does not distinguish between “small” and “large” space objects or activities. The States’ responsibility and liability may equally become engaged. It is therefore necessary to be aware of the need to include small satellite missions appropriately in the scope of application of national and international regulatory frameworks to ensure the safe and responsible use of outer space. The conference focused on the specificities of small satellites missions from the practical, the legal, and the economic perspectives.