Space Technologies - Series

Today, part 1 - Space technologies - What does it mean from an export control point of view

International and European law do not provide for a legal definition of the term “space technologies”. Our approach here is not to provide for a detailed definition of this term, neither of the term “space”, but to put them in the context of currently applicable export control regimes.

We could start by considering “space technologies” as technologies designed or intended for use in outer space or on a celestial body or, more general, in a space application.

It remains essential to understand what the term “technology” stands for. It has been defined by the Luxembourg Export Control Law of 27 June 2018 as meaning “any specific information or knowledge that is necessary for the development, production or use of a good, and that is provided by an act of providing services or is transmitted by means of technical documentation or technical assistance”. 

This definition is close to the definition in EU Dual-Use Regulation 428/2009, where “technology” means specific information necessary for the development, production or use of goods and takes the form of technical data or technical assistance. 

Colloquially, the term “technology” is also used synonymously for both physical goods and their underlying technical knowledge. From a legal perspective, however, and especially within the context of export control regimes, there is a clear distinction between a physical good or item and the associated technologies. 

Space technologies may be categorized by various characteristics, such as their function, use, size or geographic location. In export control regimes, they are typically divided into three broad categories related to the application of the technology: 

(1) launch vehicles, meaning rocket-propelled transportation systems which carry spacecraft and their payloads into outer space;

(2) spacecraft; and 

(3) ground support equipment, integrating mechanical and electrical equipment.


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