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Check ANGELS before launches into space

Stephen Kuper
Check ANGELS before launches into space

Entrepreneurs that work in the expanding Australian space industry now have access to online guidance about the legal and regulatory framework that applies to their activities on Earth and in space.

The Australian Navigational Guide Explaining Laws for Space (ANGELS) website at www.spacelaws.com has been developed under a project of the same name by the University of Adelaide Law School and law firm International Aerospace Law and Policy Group (IALPG), and with funding from the Law Foundation of South Australia.

A board composed of experts from the Adelaide Law School and IALPG oversaw the project. Professor Melissa de Zwart, dean of law, and Professor Dale Stephens are both experts in domestic and international space law, and Joseph Wheeler, legal practice director of IALPG, is an expert in aviation law.

The project was managed by Duncan Blake, a PhD candidate at the Adelaide Law School and special counsel on space law with IALPG.


Blake said, "Information provided on the ANGELS website gives guidance to space start-ups here in South Australia and throughout Australia to conduct their business in accordance with Australian, foreign and applicable international law."

Australia’s nascent space industry is projected to be worth more than$12 billion per year by 2030. Information on the ANGELS website was made accessible today when the Crown Solicitor of South Australia, Michael Wait SC, made the website live.

"Adelaide, and the Australian Space Agency, is at the epicentre of the country’s expanding space industry. The ANGELS website will provide legal and regulatory guidance to entrepreneurs, working here and overseas, who will write the next chapter in Australia’s space exploration," Wait stated. 

The ANGELS website contains information on liability and insurance, export control and intellectual property laws, as well as laws applicable to hybrid aerospace vehicles, remote sensing and launching objects into space, among other topics.


Undergraduate students from Adelaide Law School developed the website content after they met with over 30 space entrepreneurs around Australia to understand what they wanted from a space law website.

"Space entrepreneurs can maximise their prospects of commercial success by knowing about laws applicable to space activities and manage the risk of penalties and liability," said Blake. 

Under the act, permits and licences are required for many facets of space activity. Before launching an object into space from Australia a permit is required and a licence is required to operate the facility from which it is launched.

If a high-power rocket is launched, it also needs a permit, even if it doesn’t reach space. If an Australian entrepreneur wants to send Australian payloads into space from overseas they need to obtain an overseas payload permit and a return authorisation to de-orbit it back into Australia or overseas.

"Like many space-faring nations, Australia has a regulatory framework to implement its international obligations to authorise and supervise national space activities in Australia and by Australians overseas. The ANGELS website provides the Australian space industry with a ‘go-to’ resource for laws and regulations that are relevant to it," Blake added. 

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