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Space law – the next legal frontier

Bartier Perry were excited and privileged to have Emeritus Professor Steven Freeland (‘Professor Freeland’) present to our firm on 14 September 2023 on the importance and challenges of Space Law and Technology for Australia and internationally.

Space law is no longer a futuristic concept. For thousands of years, we have been fascinated by space – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were the world’s first astronomers. This fascination has led to an evolving and increasing use of space-based technology and systems – from weather apps to our car’s sat capabilities. We are interacting with space more than we realise.

I wanted to share with you what I learnt from his exciting and insightful presentation.

Space Industry

The rapid commercialisation of space and its implications for various sectors, including technology, telecommunications, and research. The deregulation of the space industry and the growth of private enterprises have transformed space into a vibrant marketplace.

Space Law and Regulation

There are many international treaties and agreements that govern outer space activities and the emerging challenges in regulating commercial space ventures. These treaties deal with an array of issues from the non-appropriation of outer space by any one country through to arms control and the exploitation of natural resources in outer space.


Professor Freeland provided valuable insights into the potential risks and opportunities in this emerging industry. He discussed the gaps in insurance cover to manage risks in space, cross-waivers in their application to launches and at launch facilities. The use of space-specific contracts was important and encouraged.

Space and Telecommunications

The role of space in the telecommunications industry was discussed. The growth of satellite networks and their importance in global connectivity was emphasised. Also, the regulatory challenges and the need for innovative solutions in the evolving telecommunications landscape was examined.

Environmental Impact of Space Activities

The need for sustainable practices in space endeavours, as well as the concerns surrounding space debris and its long-term consequences, were discussed. It was a useful reminder for all stakeholders to prioritise responsible space activities.

The Future

Concluding the event, Professor Freeland offered his insights into addressing the future challenges of the space sector. The challenges included breaking down the ‘silo’ approach to regulation with there being a real need for Australia and overseas to approach regulation in a co-operative and consistent manner. Regulation will need to address issues such as space debris mitigation and remediation, militarisation/weaponisation of space, human space travel and the commercial exploitation of natural resources.

Key Takeaways for Our Clients

  • Space is no longer an abstract concept; it's deeply intertwined with various aspects of our lives, from business to daily communication.

  • Understanding the legal and regulatory landscape of space activities is essential for anyone involved in the industry.

  • The space sector presents tremendous opportunities for commercial ventures but also comes with risks that need to be managed.

  • Responsible and sustainable practices in space exploration are paramount to preserve the environment.

  • Innovation and entrepreneurship are driving the future of space, creating exciting possibilities for businesses and individuals.

How Bartier Perry Can Help

As a law firm engaged in the discussion of space, Bartier Perry is positioned to assist you in navigating the complex legal and regulatory aspects of space activities. Our cross-disciplined Space team understands the industry and can provide guidance on:

  • Compliance with international space treaties and agreements.

  • Contractual and liability matters in commercial space ventures.

  • Intellectual property and technology transfer in the space industry.

  • Environmental and sustainability considerations in space activities.

  • Support for space entrepreneurs and startups.

  • Risk management and insurance solutions.

Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions or require assistance in this rapidly evolving field.

Author: Gerard Basha