Japan eyes private-sector rocket launch legislation

Japan eyes private-sector rocket launch legislation

The government has announced a basic policy for a bill for outer space activities that will specify a system on granting permission for activities in space and how to control the activities.

The government aims to submit the bill in an ordinary Diet session next year.

The bill, if passed, will pave the way for a rocket-launching business in Japan by the private sector.

The government aims to utilize the power of the private sector for space development.

The basic policy proposes that permissions and supervision by the government are required when private companies carry out activities in space, including launches of rockets, controlling positions and attitudes of satellites in space, and reentry to the atmosphere by satellites and other devices to bring them down to Earth.

The basic policy also proposes that space business operators will be obliged to secure the capability to pay damage compensation for possible accidents involving third persons, such as crashes of rockets.

Screening procedures on safety and other elements will be examined from now on.

As the law over establishment of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) stipulates that launches of rockets for transporting satellites into Earth orbit are JAXA's activities, it does not leave room for rocket launches solely by private companies.

In the United States and European nations, rocket launches and other space development businesses are spreading among private companies.

In Japan, the Basic Plan on Space Policy, which the government decided in January, specified that a bill to establish a law on space activities would be submitted to the Diet.

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