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Private-sector space rocket industry heads toward launch in Japan

Kyodo

The government is to create a framework to promote private-sector investment in the space rocket industry while protecting the public interest, setting rules on technical specifications and on operators’ liability in the event of an accident, Kyodo News has learned.

Draft bills for the Space Activities Act and Satellite Remote Sensing Act, to be submitted to the regular Diet session from Jan. 4, will require the government to scrutinize launch plans before granting case-by-case permission.

Under the Basic Plan on Space Policy set in early 2015, the government aims to expand the size of the space industry to around ¥5 trillion over the next decade.

The government would also oblige companies to pay compensation in the event of accidents. Victims would receive government compensation if private operators are unable to cover all the damages, according to the drafts.

Currently, the only entity that has a space program is the state-sponsored Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Meanwhile, under the Satellite Remote Sensing Act, the government can limit usage of high-precision images captured by satellites to address security concerns.