Malta National Space Strategy
By 2021, it was felt that as a natural progression from the National Space Policy a more decisive and strategic direction had to be introduced to pave the way for the development of a Space sector in Malta. In November 2022, the Government of Malta approved the first National Space Strategy 2022 – 2027 which builds upon and furthers the National Space Policy of 2017, with the intention of setting a tangible and realistic road map for the development of the Maltese Space sector. Key objectives have been outlined as relevant sectorial requirements to be followed in the five years between 2022 and 2027.
Five strategic pillars encapsulate the basis of this Strategy and serve as overarching guidelines intended to establish strong foundational aspects for a functional Space sector in Malta:
1. Space eco-system development including business attraction: Development of an agile & sustainable Space sector by encouraging Foreign Direct Investment, by offering fiscal incentives with the intention of attracting economic actors, local investment, and EU funding. All these actions are aimed at creating a a robust framework that would act as a support platform relevant to key enterprises to facilitate their capacity building.
2. Space innovation: Development of Space upstream & downstream research activities and ensuring that these products are of long-term sustainable use in potential public and private sector markets.
3. Development of human capital: To develop local knowledge base and skillsets through local academic institutions to ensure relevant human resources for Space and complimentary industries which adhere to local Space sector needs.
4. International regulatory compliance: Establishing a legal framework for registration of space objects, exploration and utilising of resources and to establish Malta as a recognised and respectable space jurisdiction.
5. Emerging technologies: Development of research and commercial application of emerging technologies with the intention of intertwining space and emerging technologies and by enhancing advanced multidisciplinary and leading-edge engineering.
The importance of incepting and supporting a Space sector in Malta is essential in keeping the country abreast with other EU Member States and other regional counterparts, ensuring that its technological infrastructure is on par and does not lag, especially when considering the re-ignited global interest in Space. There has been a substantial increase in the demand for satellite services that have become all-pervading in people’s lives. Increased satellite services call for improved satellite technology and complimentary software and interfaces to allow access to the data. This in turn requires more ground stations and communication services to operate with satellites.
The potential of the Space market is being recognised by many countries not historically considered to be space faring nations and everyone is gearing up to benefit from the fast growing and profitable, ever growing space sector. Malta has the capacity to act as a player in this market and the country is taking the necessary steps through MCST, to develop the appropriate infrastructure to participate in this sector.
To support the realisation of the five strategic pillars Malta has signed a more elaborate agreement with the European Space Agency (ESA) in October 2023 becoming a European Cooperating State (ECS). Under this new agreement a Plan for European Cooperating States (PECS) has been devised by ESA together with the Malta Council for Science and Technology to encourage research and development in the Space upstream, downstream domains as well, Space education and skills development, and the translation of foundational space research into proof of concept projects, besides the active encouragement for incepting new international collaborations with other EU and ESA member countries.
Through a series of annual funding calls, over a five-year period, Maltese public, private sector, and academic institutions are encouraged to submit research and development proposals that fit within the framework set up by each ESA PECS call.
These calls replace the previous funding structure supported by the National Space Research Fund which was solely focused on Earth Observation science and opens a broader array of opportunities for Space related applications thus aimed to enable the implementation of the key objectives as outlined within the Malta Space Strategy 2022 – 2027
This article was last updated on: February 26, 2024