A case for modern space law and regulation in the city-state

The state of play

References in Singapore’s statute book to space activities are few and far between and relate primarily to satellites. In particular, under the Telecommunications (Radio-Communication) Regulation, Singapore currently issues four classes of “Satellite Communication Station Licence”.

Does Singapore need a Space Act?

Dedicated legislation is not a prerequisite to having a space industry — as Singapore’s vibrant space industry demonstrates.

  • Second, a national space law helps states achieve consistency and predictability concerning their space activities, while also fostering private sector engagement. In particular, planning and project management for private space activities becomes much easier once everyone knows what the rules are and which government department is regulating their activities.
  • Third, a national space law can improve national coordination and integration for space activities. Besides providing a focal point for national space activities, the drafting, consultation and enactment process for a national space law could also spur awareness and interest across government and among the public.

What should a Singaporean Space Act cover?

Imagine Singapore does decide to enact a national space law. What should this law cover? Fortunately, there is plentiful international guidance available on this very question. In short, a national space law should:

  • Create a regulatory regime for the authorisation of private space activities (such as a licensing regime), and provide the means for the continuing supervision of these activities (such as inspections)
  • Establish a national registry of space objects
  • Allocate liability and insurance obligations
  • Articulate safety and environmental protection standards (including with respect to space debris)
  • Implement a regime for on-orbit ownership transfer of space objects