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  • There are many government bodies that regulate different aspects of space activities, including: the Australian Space Agency, ACMA, CASA, DEC and State governments.
  • Similar bodies exist in other countries.

Contents of this article

Australian Space Agency

The Australian Space Agency is responsible for authorising and regulating all Australian space activities, including space activities undertaken by Australian nationals overseas.

You need to contact the Australian Space Agency if you intend to:

  • operate a launch facility in Australia
  • launch an object, including a rocket, into outer space from Australia, or from an Australian aircraft
  • launch a ‘High Power Rocket’ from Australia, even if it will not go into outer space
  • launch a space object overseas, and you are an Australian national
  • return a space object to Australia
  • return a space object outside Australia, and you are an Australian national.

Australian Communications and Media Authority

The Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) plans and manages the radiofrequency spectrum in Australia, including the use of electromagnetic energy for communications to and from rockets and space objects.

The scope of the ACMA’s role includes:

  • spectrum planning
  • acquiring spectrum
  • apparatus licensing
  • class licensing
  • spectrum licensing (including Expiring spectrum licences)
  • frequency assignment and coordination
  • satellite communications and space systems regulation
  • international radiocommunications activities.

In cases where prospective use involves spectrum allocated for military use, it may also be necessary to liaise with the Defence Spectrum Office.

Defence Export Controls

Defence Export Controls (DEC) is responsible to the Minister for Defence for regulating the export of defence and strategic goods and technologies, which include:

  • military items designed or adapted for military purposes or those that are inherently lethal, incapacitating or destructive
  • commercial items and technologies that may be used or adapted for use in a military program or contribute to the development and production of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons systems.

This encompasses selected components of space systems, as well as technology and know-how that may have originated from countries (such as the United States) that have relatively strict export controls of their own.

If you wish to export a space system, you should contact Defence Export Controls.

Civil Aviation Safety Authority

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) regulates Australian aviation safety and the operation of Australian aircraft overseas.

CASA licenses pilots, registers aircraft, oversees aviation safety, promotes safety awareness and is responsible for making sure that Australian airspace is administered and used safely.

Among other things, it administers legislation that prescribes rules for the use of rockets. This includes the passage of rockets through airspace. If your space activities involve any use of airspace, you should contact CASA.

State governments

State governments regulate a wide variety of activities that you may wish to undertake as a space entrepreneur. The specific State, and agency within it, will depend on the location and nature of the activity respectively. Relevant activities typically regulated by States include:

  • the use and movement of dangerous goods, such as fuels used for rockets
  • land use
  • environment protection
  • restriction of access for safety and/or security.

Seek legal advice in cases of doubt, including referral to the appropriate State and its agencies.

Other countries

Like in Australia, the regulation of many aspects of space activities is split between agencies, such that different agencies have a focus on launches and returns, radio-frequency use, export controls, airspace and other things.

Nevertheless, many countries now have space agencies, a primary function of which is to regulate civil and commercial space activities.

These are shown below for six countries.

  • The primary regulator of space activities in France is Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES)

  • The primary regulator of space activities in the United Kingdom is the UK Space Agency

The primary regulator of space activities in China is the State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND)

The regulation of space activities in the United States is split between several federal government agencies:

  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates the launch and re-entry of space objects
  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates the use of radio-frequency by space objects and associated orbits
  • The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) regulates remote sensing activities
  • President Trump has signed a Presidential Directive that will, if approved by Congress, assign responsibility for Space Traffic Management to the Department of Commerce

  • The primary regulator of space activities in New Zealand is the NZ Space Agency