Check ANGELS before launching into space

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

angelsEntrepreneurs working in the expanding Australian space industry now have access to online guidance about the legal and regulatory framework which applies to their activities on Earth and in space.

The Australian Navigational Guide Explaining Laws for Space (ANGELS) website at has been developed under a project of the same name by the University’s 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.

“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,” says Mr Blake.

Australia’s nascent space industry is projected to be worth more than AU$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,” he says.

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,” says Mr Blake.

Under the Space (Launches and Returns) Act 2018 (Cth) it is a criminal offence to conduct space activities without a licence or permit.

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 spacefaring 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,” says Mr Blake.


Contact Details

Duncan Blake
PhD candidate
Adelaide Law School and Special Counsel on Space Law, International Aerospace Law and Policy Group
Mobile: +61 (0)420 473 818

Professor Melissa de Zwart
Dean of Law
Adelaide Law School
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5172
Mobile: +61 (0)419 134 507

Professor Dale Stephens
Director, Research Unit on Military Law and Ethics
Adelaide Law School
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5937
Mobile: +61 (0)407 803 534

Crispin Savage
Media and Communications Officer
University of Adelaide
Business: +61 (0)481 912 465