The space industry has been rapidly evolving since the first rockets were launched in the 1960s from Andøya Space Center in Norway. Space activities which were previously reserved for governmental bodies, are now also performed by private enterprises. A number of these private enterprises have commercial interests, and are presently launching satellites in the Earth’s orbit. Such satellites are important for navigation- and communication services, and both private and governmental organisations are utilising these signals from space.
Hjort has assisted both the Norwegian Space Agency and Space Norway with legal support in connection with their various activities in space.
Space Norway will provide satellite based broadband for both civilian and military users in the Arctic, using two satellites to be placed in Earth orbit by Space-X. Hjort has not only assisted Space Norway with legal advice through the areas of the process governed by Norwegian law, but also with contract negotiations and the preparation of various agreements, including necessary loan agreements.
Thus far the activities at Andøya are linked to the launching of research rockets, which have returned to Earth upon mission completion. Plans are now underway for establishing a new company, Andøya Space Port. This company will facilitate the launch of commercial rockets, which in turn will deploy privately owned satellites into the Earth’s orbit. The Norwegian Space Center has commissioned Hjort to prepare an assessment of the Norwegian state’s risk in the launching of such commercial rockets from Norwegian territory, including the economic liability Norway assumes by allowing the deployment of private satellites into Earth’s orbit. Such satellites can have a life expectancy of 15-25 years, which makes it necessary to regulate the distribution of liability between the players participating in a launch. Hjort’s work is part of a larger analysis of the establishment of Andøya Space Port.
Hjort has gained solid expertise in national and international space law, which is based on the international law obligations Norway has undertaken by adhering to the UN Outer Space Treaty, the UN Space Liability Convention and the UN Registration Convention.