The National Spatial Strategy open to public consultation
Malta’s National Space Strategy, which will dictate the government’s approach to exploring the space industry as an economic niche, has been opened for public comment.
At a news conference on Friday, Space Task Force Chairman Omar Cutajar explained that rather than seeking to launch rockets into space, the strategy is looking at ways in which the government can open up the economy in sectors where it already had a solid base. .
“This strategy is very grounded in reality and largely involves assessment exercises to determine the viability of investing in the sector,” he said.
This included setting up a framework to provide established services, such as legal or financial work, to space companies and exploring the possibility of opening a hub to entice these companies to operate from Malta.
The strategy outlines 13 goals it hopes to achieve under five main themes – achieving sustainable economic growth through space activities; support the research community; develop human capital; improve the well-being of society; and improving the regulatory and legislative framework.
Among its objectives, the strategy also aims to establish a stronger relationship with the European Space Agency, to support start-ups in space innovation, to identify education and training opportunities to meet the needs of the industry and focus on space-derived data to drive innovation.
Cutajar added that when considering investment initiatives, the strategy would explore the possibility of collaboration between industry and the research community as well as the public sector in space activities.
It would also support space-related research and design efforts and encourage students to undertake space-related studies.
Innovation Minister Owen Bonnici said that while space is rarely seen as an opportunity for growth, the sector has many everyday applications, such as GPS services or agricultural monitoring, which rely on space technology.
“Our ancestors saw themselves surrounded by the sea and made it an opportunity for growth,” he said.
“We can look at space the same way and find ways for new technologies to improve our lives.”
In Maltese academic circles, space is not an unexplored niche.
Last year, researchers launched a weather balloon into the stratosphere in an effort to document climate change.
A biomedical research experiment, Project Maleth, was also successfully launched last year, which saw biological tissue collected by Maltese researchers preserved in the International Space Station.
The public consultation is open until March 4 and can be viewed at publicconsultation.gov.mt.
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