The Austrian Outer Space Act was adopted in 2011. This was necessary due to the increasing expertise in developing nano satellites and to fulfil Austria's international obligations deriving from the Outer Space Treaties. To facilitate the implementation of the Austrian Outer Space Act, the Outer Space Regulation was enacted in 2015.
The Austrian space legislation regulates national space activities by the need to authorise and supervise them and to register space objects. So far, three Austrian satellites (TUGSAT-1, UniBrite and PEGASUS) have been launched under the Austrian Space Act. The Austrian Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK) is the competent space authority.
National space activities, which need an authorisation, are
• the launch, operation or control of a space object on Austrian territory;
• the launch, operation or control of a space object on board of vessels or airplanes, registered in Austria;
• the launch, operation or control of a space object by a natural person with Austrian citizenship or legal persons seated in Austria;
• the operation of a launch facility on Austrian territory;
• the operation of a launch facility on board of vessels or airplanes, registered in Austria;
• the operation of a launch facility by a natural person with Austrian citizenship or legal persons seated in Austria.
Space objects are objects launched or intended to be launched into outer space, including its components. The most relevant examples are satellites.
To obtain an authorisation by the BMK, the (future) operator of a national space activity needs to submit documents to prove that:
• the operator possesses the necessary reliability, capability and expertise to carry out the space activity;
• the space activity does not pose any immediate threat to the public order, to the safety of persons and property and to public health;
• the space activity does not run counter to national security, Austria's obligations under international law or Austrian foreign policy interests;
• appropriate provision has been made for the mitigation of space debris;
• the space activity does not cause harmful contamination of outer space or celestial bodies or adverse changes in the environment;
• the operator fulfils the requirements of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) concerning orbital positions and frequency assignments;
• the operator has taken out an insurance (if the operator is not released from this requirement);
• the operator has made provision for the orderly termination of the space activity.
Once the authorisation is issued and a space object launched, it will be registered in the Austrian Registry for Space Objects and the United Nations Register of Objects Launched into Outer Space. Therefore the operator has to submit certain information to the BMK.
Operators of space activities are subject to supervision by the BMK. This can take the form of regular reports or business visits.