2021 was a pivotal year for the space sector. The rising affordability and sustainability of space technologies led to a substantial growth in space-related investments and M&A activity, as well as to the creation of strategic partnerships, the entrance of new private players and a record number of satellites launches and human space transportation and tourism initiatives. This is, of course, while the sector continued to battle the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, notably concerning the disruption of supply chains and the slowdown in international demand for products and services.

It is expected that 2022 will continue to bring about relevant developments and growth in the space sector, which will also continue to rise as a significant player in the recovery process and in the increasing resilience and recovery capacity of the world to crises.

The growing demand for data, cloud services, connectivity and navigation technologies instrumental to the delivery of services and products worldwide – including in such new areas such as IoT, autonomous cars, drones, virtual reality systems, artificial intelligence and high-speed satellite internet –, as well as the discussion and approval of current legislative proposals, will further impact and speed up the development of the space industry from 2022 onwards and will most-likely bring about a high-paced legislative schedule with substantial policy shifts. Space industry stakeholders need, thus, to be aware and adapt so as to take advantage of the corresponding opportunities.

With special relevance for legal, regulatory, policy and financing matters, the following trends of 2021 and expected priorities for 2022 are highlighted below.  Space will continue to play an increasingly central role in addressing the environmental, digital and political challenges of today and tomorrow, in a progressively contested and strategic domain, as evidenced by the four priorities of the EU announced during the European Space Conference of 2022 and by the conclusions of the Council of the European Union on “Space for Everyone”.