Space Assets Protocol – IISC Study Queries Proposed Approach

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There could be less support for the UNIDROIT Space Assets Protocol than currently perceived.

There could be less support for the UNIDROIT Space Assets Protocol than currently perceived, reveals a study conducted by the International Institute of Space Commerce (IISC).

The latest study report by the IISC titled Assessing the Support for the Space Assets Protocol to the UNIDROIT Cape Town Convention highlights key industry concerns following research and survey findings.

Initiated in response to the need to investigate this sensitive area for the space sector, the study addresses the discrepancy between UNIDROIT and the largest satellite operators as to the real support that exists for the Space Assets Protocol. This contentious issue has led to major satellite operators officially expressing disapproval for the Space Assets Protocol and withdrawing from discussions, claiming that it will do more harm than good to the industry.

The IISC’s report aims to contribute towards the continuation of useful dialogue. Although it’s long been known that the Space Assets Protocol needs more industry support, the IISC study is the first to collate a cross-section of views through an independent survey.

The IISC report highlights that the proposed Protocol:

  •     Could increase risk related to financing and make it more difficult to find lenders willing to assume these risks.
  •     Introduces uncertainty through an additional layer of supra-national legislation which in many areas is more likely to create conflicts and make space financing more difficult.
  •     Will add expensive layers of broad, undefined rules on ownership and security interests.
  •     Provides for additional costs for the operators and/or financiers meaning start-ups will need to borrow more and large fleet operators will need to outsource filings to law firms.
  •     Could actually limit the availability of financing by the introduction of the public service provision.

The study was commissioned by the Isle of Man based satellite firm, ManSat via SPACEISLE.COM, and executed by the International Institute of Space Commerce (IISC).

“We’ve been following the development of UNIDROIT with interest over the last decade witnessing it change from its original focus to what it has become today, while at the same time seeing the satellite finance industry grow and mature already solving the very issues at the heart of the UNIDROIT effort. We are concerned that despite the best efforts of those involved, UNIDROIT is potentially in danger of becoming a solution seeking a problem. Hence we commissioned the report,” said Christopher Stott, Chairman and CEO of ManSat.

The full report can be accessed on the IISC website under publications/studies.

The aim of the IISC is to engage with the space sector and provide an independent platform and think-tank where space commerce issues can be discussed impartially. Research carried out by IISC will help represent industry views and provide valuable input to the development of space commerce.


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