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The 2018 ECSL Summer Course Participants in front of the Helsinki Cathedral

Report from the 2018 ECSL Summer Course on Space Law and Policy

28/09/2018 1214 views 2 likes
ESA / About Us / ECSL European Centre for Space Law

The 2018 ECSL Summer Course on Space Law and Policy took place in Helsinki, Finland from the 27th of August to the 7th of September. With the exception of Friday the 31st of August, when the whole course went to Tallinn, Estonia for a Digital Day. It was two intensive, educational and fun weeks where the participants were introduced to a broad spectrum of space law and policy related issues, explored Helsinki and Tallinn, and competed in having the best project presentations.

The 27th edition of the Summer Course had 43 participants and 4 tutors, representing 25 countries – from Europe and beyond. The course was organised in collaboration with the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, and partners included: Tallinn University of Technology, Aalto University, Helsinki University, Bird & Bird, the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the European Space Agency. The ECSL is very grateful to all our partners for allowing us to visit their sites, learn from their specialists and for helping us organise the course.

The Programme 

Over the duration of two weeks, we had roughly 40 classes given by 50 different speakers. The course took place in two countries, at 8 different sites; the Finnish Ministry of Environment, the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, University of Helsinki, the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Research of Sustainable Space, Tallinn University of Technology, Aalto University, the ESA BIC, Business Finland and the Finnish Meteorological Institute. This allowed us to explore the full range of the Finnish space sector, which includes the developments of small satellites, new space companies, research in space sciences and the sustainable uses of outer space, as well as the development of a national space law which was adopted in early 2018.

Link to the Finnish national space law:

The theme for this year’s course was “The Arctic and New Space”. The Arctic is one of the most remote and harsh regions of the world, and normal infrastructure is often not an option. As such, space-based services can offer the only solutions for communicating and monitoring what goes on in the far north. With the emergence of cheaper and better technology, new space is providing new solutions for conducting activities in the Arctic. This is why investing in space and a new space economy is identified as an area of strategic interest to the Finnish government. We had several classes on both new space and the Arctic, to familiarise the students with recent political, legal and technological developments relevant for the theme.

Of course, the programme also allowed the participants to emerge themselves into a wide array of space law and policy topics, and we had classes on everything from space security, procurement and common contracts for space, to space policies in ESA, the EU, Russia and the US. In addition, we also had classes more oriented to international law in general, which included; international organisation and international law and the fragmentation of international law.

You can find the full 2018 program here:

Lecture by ECSL Board Member Sarah Moens
Lecture by ECSL Board Member Sarah Moens

A Day Trip to Estonia

At 6.30am on Friday the 31st of August, 50 barely awake participants and lecturers boarded the Tallinn Star to take us across the Baltic Sea. The participants used the trip to enjoy the rare, perfect sunny conditions on deck and work on their group projects. Once in Tallinn, we spent the day at the Law School of the Tallinn University of Technology. With the theme Digital Day we touched upon: ITU regulations, the European Digital Agenda and its relevance for space, cyber security in space and the private space sector, but also learned more about Estonia in Space and related legal questions. At the end of the day, there were a few hours to explore the beautiful city of Tallinn, and the participants wandered the cobble-stoned streets surrounded by the city fortress.

Social Activities

This year, the annual Summer Course scavenger hunt took the participants around Helsinki in small groups. Various tasks and challenges were designed for the participants to get to know each other and learn more about Helsinki and Finland. By coincidence, the ESA-NASA grand challenge took place in Helsinki the same week as the Summer Course. As a part of this event, an amateur rocket competition was organised at Aalto University - and we were invited!

On Saturday, we organised a space quiz, and the groups competed with much enthusiasm to answer questions about space in popular culture, space exploration and other random space-related topics. On Sunday, we went on a trip to the beautiful island of Suomenlinna. It was a perfect sunny September day, Helsinki truly showed us her best side! In the evening, we organised an international food night, where everyone brought a dish from their home country and shared a meal together.

Participants at the Univeristy of Aalto to observe the amature rocket launch
Participants at the Univeristy of Aalto to observe the amature rocket launch

The Project

Divided into groups, the participants had to create and present a project. This year’s project challenged the groups to come up with a mission where a Finnish private company wanted to develop a small satellite in collaboration with ESA to be used for monitoring or communicating in the Arctic. They were then asked to advise ESA on what legal considerations the Agency should be aware of before accepting to collaborate on such a project. On the last day, the groups had to pitch their projects to a jury consisting of Prof. Philippe Achilleas (University of Paris-Sud), Maija Lonnqvist (Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment) and Dr. Marco Ferrazzani (ESA)
The jury was very pleased that all the groups developed interesting missions and addressed legal consideration in relation to international, national and private law. In the end, winners were announced in three categories: 

  • Best overall project: Team 4; Theodora Liameti (Greece), Jing Rong Bryan Lim (Singapore), Ewerton De Marchi (Portugal/Brazil), Ulve Steidl (Austria), Alessandra Matteis (Italy)
  • Best oral project: Team 7; Frederik Rubaek (Denmark), Jennifer Schlyter (Sweden) Morgane Lecas (France), Joao Pedro Marques de Azevedo (Portugal), Camille Vansteenkiste (Belgium)
  • Best written project: Team 3; Manuel Hoffman (Switzerland), Brian Kalafatian (France) Shogo Kimura (Japan), Yolanda Celina Laurenza (Argentina), Heidi Yli-Kankahila (Finland), Marta Balcer (Poland), Morgane Royer (France)
Team 4 - the winners of the Overall Best Project
Team 4 - the winners of the Overall Best Project

It is a great pleasure to see how such an international, intelligent and enthusiastic group interact and develop over two weeks. We hope the ECSL Summer Course will continue to be a contribution to develop capacity in space law and policy, as well as facilitating for good relations among members of the European and global space community.

If you are interested in participating to the 2019 ECSL Summer Course, as a participant or tutor, more information about where, when and the application procedures will be announced in spring 2019. More about the general selection criteria can be found here: