Law, College of


Date of this Version



Published by von der Dunk and Nikolaisen in Proceedings of the Forty-Fourth Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space 111-122 (2001). Copyright 2001, authors. Used by permission.


1. Introduction- As is often borne out by discussion, the term 'national space law' is used with a considerable degree of variation in scope. In the broader sense, it would encompass all law on a national level exclusively or predominantly applicable to outer space and/or space activities. Thus, a law creating a national space agency as such would already be labelled a 'national space law'. Even broader, all national law exercising substantial impact upon space activities could be qualified as 'national space law', including for example legislation related to financing of mobile assets, insurance of certain activities, or general tort liability rules to the extent applicable (also) to space activities. Under such definitions, a considerable number of states - well into the double digits, if not indeed triple - would qualify as states having some sort of national space law(s).

2. From public space law to private involvement in space activities- Let us first, prior to dealing with this new old national space law and the other developments, recapitulate the international background to national space acts in general. Whilst states still comprise the major category of actors in space, nowadays more and more private entities have become interested in carrying out activities in outer space. These developments present a clear challenge to international space law as such, since presently private enterprise is not directly bound by those rules.

3. The Norwegian Act of 1969- The above provides the backdrop against which the Norwegian Act of 1969 must be analysed. It should be realised though, that at that time, neither the Liability Convention nor the Registration Convention had yet been concluded. In implementing perceived international responsibilities and liabilities on a national level, the Norwegian authorities had to make do with the general provisions of, in particular, Articles VI, VII and VIII of the Outer Space Treaty as summarily sketched before.

4. The Implementation of the Norwegian Act- As mentioned, the relevant Ministry issuing the licence is the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Only one entity so far has been granted licences: the Andøya Rocket Range (ARR) company, a company with limited liability registered in Norway. Its owners are the Norwegian Space Centre (NSC) with 90% of the shares and Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace with 10%. ARR is therefore formally speaking a private company, but majority-owned by the NSC and in actual practice closely co-operating with it. The NSC in its tum is an independent governmental foundation, which receives its support from the Norwegian state.

5. Other European States to Follow- As mentioned, the Vikings of Norway did not remain long without other Europeans following their example. Sweden (Norway's fellow Vikings), the United Kingdom, the Russian Federation and the Ukraine had established their own national space laws already in the previous millennium. Notably missing so far were in particular France, Gennany and Italy, the three major space powers from Western Europe.

6. Concluding remarks- In the final analysis, the general 'rediscovery' of the Norwegian Act respectively the efforts within such states as France, Germany and the Netherlands to establish a national space law form two sides of the same coin. Both testify to the increasing awareness that private enterprise is in outer space to stay, and that the current status of international space law, state-oriented as it is, requires national implementation in order to help ensure orderly development of the whole private space endeavour.