Satellite as a Service – legal aspects

Publication date: June 05, 202

In recent years, we have seen the dynamic development of the space industry, which is changing our perception of space. One of the most interesting concepts that is gaining popularity as part of this development is Satellite as a Service (SataaS). This model, derived from the broadly understood idea of quality services (XaaS), offers the possibility of using satellite infrastructure and related services based on a subscription model or on demand. This includes both access to satellite data and the use of a variety of satellite functions, such as space observations and satellite communications.

In the context of this dynamic development, legal issues play an important role, which are the foundation of the future of space exploration. International law, European Union regulations and national laws must evolve along with increasing technological capabilities, while ensuring security, sustainable development and fair access to space. We face not only fascinating technological challenges, but also ethical, social and legal dilemmas, the right solution of which can shape our future existence in space.

Satellites and services

As part of SataaS, users can choose from a variety of satellite types and services that can be tailored to their individual needs and interests. Whether it is space observations, data transmission or climate change monitoring, SataaS offers a full range of options that can be tailored to the specificities of your task. This is extremely important, especially for smaller companies or organizations that may have had difficulty accessing space technologies so far. The technologies used in SataaS are extremely advanced and diverse, enabling precise and effective use of satellite data. Key technologies include sensor systems and observation cameras, supported by artificial intelligence and machine learning, allowing for more advanced data analysis and interpretation. In addition, satellite communication technologies provide uninterrupted access to the network in areas remote from the ground infrastructure, opening up new opportunities for many areas of life.

This model not only introduces revolutionary changes in the field of space technologies, but also becomes a key tool supporting the development of enterprises and bringing numerous benefits to society. With this innovative approach, companies can optimize costs, increase data availability and scale their space operations in line with the growing needs of the market. The SataaS model eliminates traditional barriers to entry into the space market, allowing even smaller companies to take advantage of advanced space services without having to invest in expensive satellite infrastructure. It opens up new opportunities for businesses to access satellite data faster, more flexibly and efficiently. As a result, companies can better monitor market trends, predict climate change, or even analyze competition based on satellite data. In addition, the ability to scale resources depending on the needs allows for flexible adaptation to changing market conditions and quick response to new challenges. All this translates into faster business decision-making, better use of available resources and more flexible adaptation to changing market conditions.

However, the benefits of SataaS are not limited to the business sector alone – it also has a significant impact on society by supporting environmental, disaster monitoring and humanitarian support. Thanks to satellite data provided by SataaS, it is possible to accurately monitor climate change, environmental degradation or threats to biodiversity. This information is essential for various sectors, from agriculture to the energy industry, helping to make sustainable decisions. In addition, SataaS enables fast and effective monitoring of natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and floods, this allows emergency services and humanitarian organisations to respond more quickly to emergencies and minimise loss of life and property.

International legal regulations

In light of the growing role of satellites as a key tool in areas such as telecommunications, navigation and earth observation, there are more and more complex legal issues regarding their use. However, the legal bases for space activities are complex and include both international and national regulations.

  • Outer Space Treaty

The signing of the Outer Space Treaty was the result of global efforts to regulate the exploration and use of space, especially in the context of growing cold-war tensions. The treaty not only imposed a ban on the placement of weapons of mass destruction in space, but also established the cosmos as an area intended solely for peaceful purposes, thus laying the foundations for peaceful exploration and space research. It is worth emphasizing that the Space Treaty also contains provisions on the principle of freedom of space exploration, which guarantees equal access to the resources of the cosmos regardless of its status. This assumption was important in the context of equal participation of states in space exploration and ensuring that no country would be discriminated against on the basis of its financial or technological resources.

One of the key elements of the Treaty was the ban on the acquisition of space territory, which was fundamental in establishing the cosmos as a common heritage of humanity. This decision stressed the universal nature of space exploration and was an important step in ensuring that no country could claim space. In addition, the Space Treaty introduced the principle of international liability for damage caused by space objects. This principle is crucial in the context of international security and the sustainable development of space activities, ensuring that states and private entities are responsible for possible damage caused by activities in space.

  • Rescue Agreement

It is a significant extension of the provisions of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty on the rescue of astronauts. This document was developed in response to the growing challenges of space exploration and the need to ensure the safety of astronauts in emergency situations.

Under the agreement, states are required to provide assistance to cosmonauts in case they are in danger, regardless of their nationality. Key provisions include a commitment to take all possible measures to rescue and ensure the safe return of astronauts to Earth in the event of a crash or accident in space. An important aspect of the agreement is also the requirement to immediately notify other interested parties and the UN Secretary-General of any incident requiring rescue. This collaboration and information exchange is crucial for responding effectively to space crises and providing rapid support to astronauts.

  • Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects.

The Convention regulates liability for possible damage caused by space objects. This document provides a solid legal foundation to provide a clear legal framework for action in space, especially in the context of liability and compensation issues.

One of the essential assumptions of the Convention is the principle of absolute liability of states for damage caused by their space objects on the surface of the Earth or in flight. This means that states are liable regardless of the fault in the event of damage, which is intended to provide victims with prompt and effective compensation. In the context of space damage, the Convention establishes the principle of liability based on the principle of guilt. This means that the state must prove its guilt or the guilt of those acting on its behalf in the event of damage in space. This principle is crucial to ensure fair settlement in the event of space incidents.

In addition, the Convention precisely defines the procedures for the lodging of claims and for the settlement of disputes relating to space damage. In accordance with its provisions, states parties are obliged to make claims for compensation in relation to space damage by means of a written notification, which contains full and detailed information regarding the damage and the circumstances of its occurrence. States Parties must provide evidence that confirms the causal link between space activities and the resulting damage, which is relevant for effective redress. It is an important tool that ensures effective resolution of disputes and fair compensation for the injured parties, which contributes to maintaining stability and security in space operations.

  • Registration Convention from 1976

Its main purpose is to ensure the traceability of all space objects in orbit by maintaining the registers of space objects by States parties and their regular reporting to the UN Secretary-General.

Under the Convention, each state is required to maintain a national register of space objects, in which detailed information is collected about each launched space object. This information includes the name of the object, its function, orbit parameters, as well as the date and place of launch. These countries are also required to forward this data to the UN Secretary General in order to establish a global database of space objects. The registration of space objects is crucial to ensure the safety and effectiveness of operations in space. This allows you to monitor the movements and locations of all space objects, which in turn allows you to avoid collisions between them and effectively plan and manage space missions.

It is worth noting that the Convention on the Registration of Space Objects is an important step in the development of space law, which is becoming increasingly important in the era of intensive space exploration. However, as technology advances and the number of space objects in orbit increases, there is a need to constantly update and adapt space regulations to ensure the safe and efficient exploitation of space.

European Union Regulations

The European Union (EU) plays a key role in regulating space activities, developing an integrated approach to space management and promoting technological innovation. European Union law on space activities covers a wide range of regulations aimed at supporting the common space policy, developing advanced technologies and strengthening cooperation both within the Union and with international partners. EU space policy focuses on enhancing the competitiveness of the European space industry, ensuring independence in access to space and promoting international cooperation in the implementation of space projects. The European Space Agency (ESA) plays a central role in the implementation of this policy by conducting scientific research, developing new technologies and carrying out space missions, both autonomous and in cooperation with other countries.

The Galileo programme, which is the European satellite navigation system, is one of the key elements of the EU’s space policy. Galileo ensures the European Union’s independence in terms of precise positioning and navigation, offering high-precision services worldwide. The system is used in many sectors, such as transport, telecommunications, energy and finance, supporting a variety of applications from car navigation to power grid synchronization. The Copernicus programme, focused on Earth observation, provides the data and information necessary for environmental monitoring, natural resource management and disaster response. With Sentinel satellites, Copernicus offers high-resolution data that is freely available to researchers, businesses and governments around the world, enabling informed decision-making in key areas, such as climate change and environmental protection.

The European Union’s regulations also concern the management of radio frequencies, security and data protection in satellite communications and the promotion of innovation in the space sector. The Union shall coordinate the allocation of radio frequencies to ensure effective and efficient use of spectrum, which is crucial for satellite and telecommunications services. In addition, the EU sets rules on security and data protection to ensure that satellite transmissions are secure and private. Innovation is supported by funding research and development and by promoting cooperation between public and private actors.

One of the most serious challenges in space is the problem of space debris, which poses a threat to space operations. The European Union is taking active measures to monitor and manage space debris. It develops monitoring and tracking systems that help minimize the risk of collisions, and develops rules for space traffic management to ensure safe navigation in space. International cooperation in this area is essential, and the EU is working with other countries and international organisations to develop joint space litter management strategies.

National regulation

National law on space activities is diverse and depends on the specific regulations of individual countries. Those who conduct space activities develop their own regulations and regulations to manage the space activities of their agencies, companies and other entities. In this point, we will discuss in detail the regulations regarding space activities in the United States and Russia.

  1. United States

The country is one of the leaders in the field of space activities, having an extensive legal system regulating its various aspects. At the federal level, space activities are supervised by various government agencies that ensure compliance with national and international law.

Federal regulations on space activities are implemented by several key agencies. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible for issuing licenses for commercial launches and returns of spacecraft. The FAA monitors the safety of space operations and environmental protection to minimize risks to people and property. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) manages the assignment of radio frequencies for satellite communications and the licensing of telecommunications satellites, ensuring that all communication systems operate smoothly and in accordance with international standards. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is responsible for licensing commercial remote Earth detection and monitoring systems, ensuring their compliance with the law and protecting privacy and national security.

The United States actively supports the commercialization of space. Acts such as the Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984 and the SPACE Act of 2015 are designed to support the development of the private sector in space. The SPACE Act specifically enables American companies to search for and exploit space resources such as water and minerals from asteroids, provided that international space law is respected. In addition, the law introduces regulations to protect the investments of private companies and stimulate the development of new technologies. The SPACE Act provides a legal framework for private exploration and mining missions while encouraging collaboration with NASA and other federal agencies.

Such a regulatory system is crucial for space activities, both governmental and private, to be conducted in a safe and responsible manner. It also contributes to the dynamic development of the space industry, supporting innovation and investment in new technologies. The United States, through its laws and regulations, is a model for other countries seeking to develop and explore space.

  • Russia

Russia, as one of the pioneers in the field of space exploration, has a comprehensive legal system regulating various aspects of space activities. This system is defined in the 1993 “On Space” Act, which contains detailed regulations on licensing, liability and safety.

According to the law, all entities conducting space activities must obtain a license from the government. The licensing process includes the assessment of the technical and financial capabilities of the entity and compliance with international treaties, which is designed to ensure that space activities are safe, responsible and compliant with international standards. In addition, the Act imposes liability on operators for any damage resulting from their space activities. Operators must comply with international safety standards and take out insurance covering potential damage caused to third parties. Such provisions are intended to minimise the risks associated with space activities and to provide adequate compensation measures in the event of damage.

The Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos, plays a central role in the management and supervision of space activities in Russia. Roscosmos is responsible for the planning and implementation of national space programs and for international cooperation. The Agency oversees all aspects of space activities, from research and technology development to manned and unmanned missions. Roscosmos also manages Russia’s space resources and monitors space to ensure national security. As part of an international collaboration, Roscosmos works with partners such as NASA and ESA on various space programs, including the International Space Station (ISS). This cooperation allows Russia to use the knowledge and resources of its partners, while making an important contribution to global space exploration.

Liability and insurance

Civil liability and penalties are an important aspect of regulation in the field of space activities. Civil liability refers to the obligation to cover damage caused by activities in space, such as satellite collisions or property destruction. This is a complex issue that is often subject to international treaties and agreements, such as the Convention on International Responsibility for Damage to Space Objects. These agreements set financial limits for liability and set rules for determining the fault of compensation. The Convention on Cosmic Responsibility specifies precisely that satellite operators are responsible for damage caused by their space devices. It also sets a financial limit on the liability of the operator, which can be up to several hundred million dollars. Where the cosmic damage exceeds this limit, the – signatory State of the Convention to which the operator belongs may be required to cover the additional costs.

Satellite insurance is a key element of risk management in the space sector. Due to the high costs of building, launching and operating satellites, as well as potential financial losses related to their failure or loss, having adequate insurance is necessary for satellite operators. Insurance policies for satellites are usually tailored to the individual needs of operators and the specifics of the project. These include a variety of risk aspects, such as loss or damage to the satellite during takeoff, external factors (such as space radiation or micrometeoroids), failures of propulsion systems, and, and the risk of collisions with other objects in space. In addition, policies may also include civil liability for damage caused by satellites, which is an important financial security in the event of space accidents.

The process of obtaining satellite insurance often requires cooperation between satellite operators and specialized insurance companies that have experience in space risks. These companies conduct a detailed risk analysis and assess potential threats to the satellite and space infrastructure. Based on these analyses, they develop insurance policies tailored to the specific needs and risks of a given space project. In addition, satellite insurance policies often include clauses for different accident scenarios, allowing for flexible coverage of different types of risks and losses. These may include, among others, financial losses related to the delay in the launch of the satellite, costs related to the repair or replacement of damaged satellites, also compensation for losses resulting from loss of satellite functionality or loss of revenues related to its activities.

With proper insurance, satellite operators can minimize the financial risks associated with the operation of satellites and ensure peace of mind in the event of possible space accidents. This is an important element of financial security, which enables further development and innovation in the field of space technologies.

Data protection

Data protection in the context of satellite activities is regulated by various legal acts at international and national level. In the European Union, a key legal act is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which has been in force since May 2018. The GDPR imposes strict requirements on the processing of personal data, including the principle of data minimization, which requires that the collected data is limited to the necessary minimum. Satellite operators need to determine exactly what data is needed to achieve their goals and avoid collecting redundant information. In the context of satellites, this means that operators must ensure that the data collected by satellites is processed in a manner consistent with applicable privacy and security standards. In addition, operators must ensure that this data is stored in a secure manner and accessible only to authorised entities.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), also known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), introduces stringent requirements for the protection of personal data, which are directly applicable to services provided as Satellite-as-a-Service (SataaS). The GDPR requires that personal data be processed in accordance with the principles of legality, reliability and transparency, as well as in a way that ensures adequate security of this data. Therefore, StaaS operators must ensure that any personal data collected by satellites is processed in accordance with the GDPR. This means that they must obtain explicit consent from data subjects before collecting and processing them. In addition, operators must ensure that this data is stored securely and protected by unauthorized access, loss or damage. It also requires that operators carry out regular risk assessments and implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure the security of the data processed. In practice, this can mean the use of data encryption, regular updates of security systems, as well as conducting audits and training for employees.

Other regulations, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the United States, also affect the way SataaS operators need to manage personal information. The CCPA requires companies to inform consumers about what personal data is collected and for what purpose, and to provide consumers with the right to access their data and request its deletion.

All of the above regulations are intended to ensure that personal data is processed in a safe and lawful manner, which is crucial for maintaining customer trust and protecting their privacy in the context of the rapidly growing space industry. With strict regulations and strict data processing controls, SataaS operators can effectively protect the privacy of their users and minimize the risks associated with unauthorized access to data.

All in all, while Satellite as a Service offers exciting opportunities for space technology development and accessibility, it also requires a robust and flexible regulatory framework. Stakeholders, service providers and users must work together to address these legal challenges, ensuring that the SataaS model can evolve in a sustainable and ethical manner in the rapidly evolving space industry.


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5.         „What are the Different Types of Satellite Services?”;

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