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 feedback from the public.

In a press conference on Friday, chair of the space task force Omar Cutajar explained that, rather than seeking to launch rockets into space, the strategy looks at ways in which the government can open up the economy in sectors where it already had a solid foundation.

“This strategy is very much grounded in reality and much of it 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, for space companies and exploring the possibility of opening a hub to entice those companies to operate from Malta.

The strategy outlines 13 goals it hopes to attain on five principal themes - achieving sustainable economic growth through space activities; supporting the research community; developing human capital; enhancing societal wellbeing; and improving the regulatory and legislative framework. 

Among its goals, the strategy is also looking to build a stronger relationship with the European space agency, support starts up in space innovation, identify education and training opportunities to meet industry needs and focus on space derived data to drive innovation.

Cutajar added that when looking at investment initiatives, the strategy would be exploring the possibility of collaboration between industry and the research community as well as the public sector in space activities.

It would also support research and design efforts related to space and encourage students to take up space-related studies.

Innovation Minister Owen Bonnici said that while one seldom thought of space as an opportunity for growth, the sector had many everyday applications, such as GPS services or agricultural monitoring, which are based on space technology.

“Our forefathers saw themselves surrounded by the sea and turned it into an opportunity for growth,” he said.

“We can look at space in the same way and find ways for new technology to improve our lives.” 

In Malta’s academic circles, space has not been an unexplored niche.

Last year, researchers launched a weather balloon into the stratosphere in a bid to document climate change.

A biomedical research experiment, Project Maleth, was also successfully launched last year, which saw biological tissue collected by Maltese researchers kept in the International Space Station.

The public consultation is open until March 4 and can be accessed on publicconsultation.gov.mt .

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