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Space Development Act Gets Green Light from Legislature’s Education & Culture Committee

Space has become one of the 21st century’s new competitive arena. Whether it be traditional powerhouses or emerging countries, all have invested a lot of resources in space development, and after nearly 30 years, Taiwan has already laid a sizeable infrastructure and technological capacity. In her inauguration speech on May 20, 2020, President Tsai listed the space industry as one of the six core strategic industries. Under the guidance of state policies, resource investments, and comprehensive legal and support structures, Taiwan can surely become one of the next big players among emerging space countries, treating the industry as vital to supporting national security, economic development, citizens’ livelihood and welfare, and the overall development of the country with scientific and technological progress.

On April 26 and 28, the Education and Culture Committee of the Legislative Yuan held a hearing on a draft article for the "Space Development Act". In addition to the Executive Yuan’s version, the hearing also included 17 other versions by members of both ruling and opposition legislators. After lively and detailed discussions, the draft article passed the committee examination on April 28.

The main content of the Space Development Act’s draft article includes a confirms the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) as the competent authority for space activities. In addition, the government has been appointed as the special legal person to implement such national space policies and assist in the promotion of development-related matters. MOST is responsible for the establishment of relevant national launch sites, the above-mentioned legal person may be appointed to operate and manage them, and launches can only occur at national launch sites. Apart from the draft proposed by the Executive Yuan respecting international conventions and related regulations, the basic principles of Taiwan’s space development are also founded on environmental protection and sustainable development, while amendments were made to adhere to disclosure of information in line with national security interests. Additionally, it seeks to popularize of space science and help the public understand Taiwan’s space policy, leading to the cultivation of talent in the industry. Regarding the establishment of a national launch site, the draft article also strengthens the respect and protection of indigenous people’s rights and interests.

The Space Development Act also strengthens the role of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and other relevant ministries in promoting industrial development. The recently reviewed draft article contains a total of six sections and 22 articles.

At present, more than 31 countries have enacted or are enacting various forms of space regulation, with Taiwan being the 32nd country in the world possessing satellites, and several domestic commercial space companies have been established in recent years, making commercial and applied space activities gradually more popular. Consequently, international joint ventures and private enterprise investment business models have been introduced, which has enabled Taiwan to enter a new era. In response to the increasingly vigorous development of commercial and private ventures, and taking into account the sustainable use of space, the United Nations is encouraging countries to formulate national space laws, which Taiwan has answered by formulating space-related laws and regulations to express that the country is willing to fulfill its responsibilities and obligations as a member of the global community.

In the past, Taiwan relied on a strong scientific research foundation to actively build links with the foreign space industry, and so the formulation of the Space Development Act is a key step to build the initial legal foundation which will regulate related space activities, strengthen risk control and ensure safety. The act also pROVides a clear legal source to facilitate the promotion of industry by the public sector and private enterprises as well as their compliance to regulations. Additionally, it calls for developing more pioneer technologies to enhance industrial progress.

Following the committee’s evaluation of the act, Taiwan’s legal backing for joining the space race has taken a step forward. MOST hopes that the Legislative Yuan can complete the third reading of the draft article as soon as possible, in order to lay a long-lasting foundation for Taiwan’s space development.