The UK and South Korea have agreed to cooperate in space, signalling continued steps towards forging a global framework for peaceful and sustainable activity in Earth’s orbit.
The deal will see both countries share space-related discoveries, operational knowledge, training and personnel exchanges, as space becomes increasingly commercialised and militarised.
“Space is critical to our security, our prosperity and our modern way of life,” chief of air staff at the Royal Air Force, Sir Mike Wigston said. “The UK and the Republic of Korea share the same determination to ensure that space is there for the benefit of all.”
The deal forms part of the arrangement made between prime minister Boris Johnson and president Yoon Suk-yeol at the NATO Summit in Madrid last month. And comes amid a chorus of onlookers calling for a global framework of space regulations, leaving Cold War-era prohibitions in the dust.
British science minister George Freeman told City A.M. in late June that the country is looking to base an “industry-led but government backed” kitemark standard, for “sensible, appropriate, sustainable” space launch – which he hopes will eventually become unilaterally applied across the globe.
“As with the shipping in the 17th century and cars in the 20th, the key will be regulation which enforces good industry standards and reduces the cost of insurance and finance for a satellite launch… with London as a global capital of insurance and venture financing, we have an opportunity to use our historic role in space science to now harness responsible finance for sustainable space,” he said.
The deal between the UK and South Korea follows that of a so-called Space Bridge with Australia, a partnership announced last February in a bid to unlock trade barriers, academic research opportunities and investment for both countries.
Lawyers have since hailed the partnership as “best practice” for the global space industry.
“International collaboration has always underpinned national activity in space and its relevance is expressly highlighted by the Outer Space Treaty,” partner at law firm Mayer Brown, Rachael O’Grady told City A.M. earlier this year.
“Given the numerous gaps that currently preside in the international legal framework governing this field, initiatives such as the Space Bridge are all the more laudable, as they pave the way for best practice initiatives and soft law developments, which will become increasingly relevant with the fast-paced growth in this sector.”