Although various research-cluster activities in space-related subjects have been active for several years, a national drive to appropriately jump-start the space sector in Malta was initiated through the signing of a Cooperation Agreement between Malta and the European Space Agency (ESA) on the 20th February 2012. Since then, the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST) has been tasked with the coordination and governance of space-related matters in Malta.
The Space Directorate within MCST focuses on building relationships with foreign space agencies, the Maltese Government, industry and educational sector and actively encourages the uptake of the sector through a number of awareness-raising and capacity building measures. Apart from representing Malta on a number of EU and International space-related fora, the space directorate has established relationships with key entities within the sector, such as ESA, the French Space Agency (CNES), the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and Eurisy. As stressed in the very first National Space Policy, published in 2017, the establishment and implementation of such collaborative agreements is an instrumental building block to help build capacity and knowledge in the sector. The directorate is also operating the very first Space Research Fund in 2018; an initiative launched in collaboration with the European Space Agency, exclusively for Maltese beneficiaries.
Considering the fact that space is a very horizontal subject, with applications in a multitude of sectors, the need to bring the main Maltese actors together to explore the possibilities of joining efforts and resources immediately became evident. To this end, in 2016, MCST invited local entities with interest in space-related activities, to form a governance group. This ‘Space Governance Group’ meets every quarter in order to ensure proper communication channels among Maltese entities having an interest or responsibility within the local space sector. The informal set-up is made up of the following entities: the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST), the Malta Communications Authority (MCA), the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM), the Planning Authority (PA), the Environmental Resources Authority (ERA) and the National Aerospace Centre (NAC). The group reviews outcomes from space fora, discusses policy positions prior to going for wider consultation, identifies opportunities and aids the establishment of a common position at a national and EU level. Through its efforts, the Space Governance Group helps avoid the duplication of effort, and ensures the various stakeholders can push a common front in local space activities.