Space activities referred to in the Act on Space Activities

Section 4 of the Act on Space Activities 63/2018) provisions on what the Act means by “space activities”. The definition is relevant, for example, as to what kind of activities under the Act on Space Activities require authorisation and what kind activities the State is responsibility under the UN international space agreements. 

The UN space instruments do not define space activities, but in practice, space activities are considered to be activities that enable space to be accessed, and space can be explored or used from space. This means that space activities are those carried out in order to enter, remain in and return from space. 

In the Act on Space Activities, space activities refer to the launching of a space object into outer space, the operation and other control of a space object in outer space, and the measures to return a space object and its return to the Earth. Space object refers to an object that has been or is to be sent to space, including parts of such object, and a device that has been or is to be used to send an object to space, including parts of such equipment.

Space object is defined in an extensive manner, covering the components and the launcher, since not only the space object itself but also its individual components, its launcher or components of the launcher may be the cause of damage. Parts may be unintentionally removed from the space object, for example as a result of a collision or failure, but parts may also be deliberately removed, for example, when the various parts of the vehicle rocket come loose in a controlled manner. 

Finland does not currently have the infrastructure needed for launching space objects, which means that the operators acquire the space object from outside Finland. According to the preliminary work on the Act the procurement of launch services from a launch provider is seen as launching a space object and is thus space activities as referred to in the Act on Space Activities.

The operation of a space object includes all activities that are related to the space object’s placement in orbit or its flight conditions or movement in space. Other control of a space object in space means other influencing a space object, such as termination of the operation of a space object. Space objects that no longer function or objects whose movements in space cannot be influenced are also covered by the Act on Space Activities.