Satellite and Space Projects Newsletter February 2024 | Fieldfisher
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Satellite and Space Projects Newsletter February 2024

John Worthy


United Kingdom

Fieldfisher Space group hits the heights again: four years in a row: Our award-winning Satellite and Space Projects group has added a further accolade, with partner John Worthy being highlighted as Recommended for Space and Satellite by Who's Who Legal global review 2024, one of only 3 UK law firm partners to be granted this recognition consistently over the last four years.

John comments: “it is a privilege to receive this recognition. I am delighted to be honoured in this way. With so many fantastic new technologies and commercial developments delivering ground-breaking applications from space, it is such an exciting time to be working with many leading-edge clients and helping them to innovate in space to improve life here on earth."

EU Data Act sets new framework for connected products and data users: The EU Data Act, delivering a harmonised regime on access to and use of data for connected products, came into force on 11 January 2024. Under the new regime, designers and manufacturers of connected products must allow users to access and reuse the data generated by these products easily and securely. This is of particular importance for Internet of Things (IoT) products and devices and will apply to any business which targets the EU market, even if they are not located in the EU. 

Intended to enable more data holders and data users to participate in the data economy, the rules will allow seamless transfer of product data and connected service data. In particular, the Data Act will give users the right to access the data generated by smart devices. While trade secrets are to remain protected, this data can be shared with third parties which could encourage a new range of services supporting users and their connected devices.

Separate obligations are placed on data processing service providers, including cloud providers, to enable customer switching between service providers. This could impact certain communications/data service providers using satellite platforms.

For more information on the Data Act and a copy of our briefing paper, please email John Worthy ( or your usual Fieldfisher contact.

Tech suppliers to the finance sector preparing for DORA: With the EU Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA) becoming applicable in January 2025, communications and other technology service providers to the financial services and banking sector are gearing up for a new range of regulatory commitments. DORA will require banks and financial sector players to apply enhanced operational resilience standards in their contracts with ICT suppliers. So these suppliers are looking at how best to prepare for the new commitments and to update their contract terms and security standards to deliver the required assurance.

If you would like more details on DORA, please contact please email John Worthy ( or your usual Fieldfisher contact.

First commercial moon landing for Intuitive Machines and Lonestar Data Holdings: The successful touch-down on 22 February of the Odysseus craft from Intuitive Machines is the first lunar landing by a commercial operator. It also marks a return to the moon for the US after over 50 years. Odysseus carries a range of scientific instruments for NASA and 6 commercial payloads, including a data centre mission for Lonestar Data Holdings. Lonestar has already achieved a successful demonstration of the mission capabilities during cis-lunar orbit en route to the moon 's surface.

Eutelsat sells Airbus OneWeb share and lowers revenue guidance: Eutelsat has sold OneWeb's 50% share in the Airbus OneWeb Satellites joint venture in Florida to Airbus U.S. Space & Defense. The joint venture business supplied the first generation satellites for the OneWeb constellation.

In parallel, Eutelsat's recent trading statement delivered lower revenue guidance for financial year 2023/24 and postponed further guidance for 2024/25. Eutelsat share price fell 15% on the Paris stock exchanged following the announcement. CEO Eva Berneke told analysts that the OneWeb rollout had been slower than anticipated and was hampered by difficulties in obtaining operating licences in certain markets such as Thailand and Turkey.

Scotland's pursuing its ambition to become Europe's leading space nation:  Scotland's innovation minister, Richard Lochhead, set out Scotland's aim to become Europe's leading space nation at the UK Space Agency's Space Investment Forum, held in Edinburgh. Lochhead emphasised that the space sector could be worth £4 billion and employ 20,000 people across the sector in roles such as manufacturing small satellites and supporting rocket launches.

In pursuing this ambition, the space sector has been selected as an economic priority by the Scottish government. The SaxaVord and Sutherland projects (located in Shetland and the Highlands respectively) are progressing well, with the SaxaVord spaceport preparing to host the UK's first vertical launch later this year.

FCC updates guidance for Orbital Debris Mitigation Rules: On 25 January 2024, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted an Order on Reconsideration to provide guidance to satellite operators on orbital debris mitigation rules. After the FCC published their 2020 Orbital Debris Mitigation Report, concerns were raised by among others, Boeing, EchoStar, Hughes Network Services, Planet Labs, Spire Global, Telesat, SpaceX and Amazon. The new guidance addresses some of these issues including the burden on applicants, manoeuvrability, large system disposal reliability, deployment devices and a "case-by-case" approach.

Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel highlighted that the FCC is holding operators accountable for compliance with the orbital debris policies. Last year, there was the first ever FCC enforcement action against a company which failed to comply with a satellite de-orbiting plan.

UK funding to improve space sustainability: On 9 February 2024 the UK Space Agency (UKSA) announced a package of funding to support work targeted at extending the life of satellites. The funding is the latest in the series of efforts taken by UKSA aimed to make satellites, and space in general, more sustainable. In this latest action, the UK is directing £1.5 million of funding to feasibility studies to reduce space debris by refuelling satellites in space.

A further £2 million of funding will be used to upgrade the Satellite Application Catapult's In-Orbit Servicing and Manufacturing facility so that it can verify, validate and demonstrate a range of in-orbit operations, such as repair, assembly and servicing.

NileSat and Es'hailSat form partnership to boost MENA connectivity: MENA satellite operators Nilesat, based in Egypt, and Es'hailSat, based in Qatar, signed a MoU to form a strategic partnership that will combine their satellite fleets and wide ground infrastructure. Nilesat, which is primarily owned by the Egyptian Radio and Television Union public broadcaster, is responsible for operating multiple geostationary satellites at 7 degrees West. Es'hailSat has satellite coverage at 25.5/26 degrees East, an Arabsat orbital hot spot. Each operator can now benefit from the other's coverage at these orbital positions. The partnership will cover video broadcasting, satellite communications, enterprise connectivity and digital technologies throughout the MENA region.

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