Overview

The first decades of the 21st century have witnessed a revolution in the development and growth of the global space economy. Alongside major government programs, such as the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)'s Artemis program to send human beings back to the moon and ultimately to Mars, there have been remarkable developments in the commercial space sector. These include increasing deployment of commercial satellites for a growing number of applications, innovations by private companies in launch technology that have driven down launch costs and growing interest from private investors. Between 2010 and 2020, the global space economy grew from $276 billion to $446 billion, with record investment in 2020. These development and growth trends are set to continue into the future, with new opportunities ranging from launch infrastructure and space tourism to space-based manufacturing and extraction of space-based resources.

Mayer Brown's global footprint and broad range of experience position it well to support companies supplying or operating in the space sector. Clients include some of the sector's major players. Mayer Brown has advised clients on an array of space-related matters, including government contracts, acquisitions of space-related companies, satellite financings, satellite-related litigation and arbitration, cyber security and regulatory compliance such as export controls and satellite filings.

In the United States in particular, Mayer Brown's National Security practice advises clients on a wide spectrum of matters, including space programs, that involve sensitive national security issues, and many lawyers within the practice have first-hand experience with national security programs and policies at the most senior levels of the US government. Mayer Brown also offers global proficiency in a range of other practices and industries that can be effectively deployed to support companies in the space sector, including (among others) Technology; Projects & Infrastructure; Global Mobility & Migration; and International Trade.

Expérience

Corporate

  • Represented the Boeing Company in connection with its acquisition of Millennium Space Systems, Inc., a developer of high-performance satellites and space systems.
  • Represented the Boeing Company in connection with its minority investment in SoftBank Satellite Planning Corp., an entity formed for the purpose of pursuing the issuance and allocation of satellite spectrum by the Japanese government.
  • Advised Asia Satellite Telecommunications Holdings Limited on an unconditional cash offer by Merrill Lynch (Asia Pacific) Ltd on behalf of Carlyle Group to acquire all the issued shares in Asia Satellite Telecommunications Holdings Limited at an offer price of HK$24.82 per share.
  • Advised a UK satellite operator in relation to the negotiation of an ongoing contract with a foreign government business and its associated defence force, in particular, with respect to a payment and performance guarantee.

Financing

  • Advising an export credit agency in connection with the financing of the AfricaSat 1A satellite for the Republic of Azerbaijan.
  • Acted for Asia Satellite Telecommunications Company Limited (AsiaSat), Asia's first privately owned regional satellite operator, on all the financings of their satellites including AsiaSat 1 (1990), AsiaSat 2 (1995), AsiaSat 3 (1997), AsiaSat 3S (1999), AsiaSat 4(2003) and AsiaSat 5 (2009). AsiaSat 3 was the first satellite financing transaction on a project basis, which was secured on three satellites without any parent company guarantees.

Litigation

  • Advised a UK satellite operator in relation to possible force majeure events affecting the launch of a satellite.
  • Advised a UK satellite operator in relation to a disputed supply/distribution agreement relating to satellite-derived services.
  • Represented a UK satellite operator in relation to a disputed telecommunications agreement involving the provision of satellite services including mobile broadband.
  • Represented a UK satellite operator in relation to a disputed sales contract for the purchase of high-value equipment for use in satellite activity.
  • Represented Star One, the largest telecommunications satellite operator in Brazil, in an ICC arbitration brought by Andesat S.A. for alleged breach of contract for the use of satellite capacity.
  • Representing Asia Satellite Telecommunications Co Ltd in their successful London Court of International Arbitration claim under a satellite lease agreement, conducted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.
  • Represented an Asian satellite operator in the successful defense of a claim brought in Hong Kong arbitration by a Thai satellite operator in relation to a cooperation agreement (“condo-sat”) with the Thai operator involving a claim for US$80 million that concerned important video broadcast rights in Asia.
  • Representing a contractor in litigation regarding a contract for the management and operation of US Air Force space launch sites.
  • Acted in an ICC arbitration relating to a disputed launch services agreement and the contested design and manufacture of various satellites.
  • Represented a contractor in connection with litigation regarding the award of the contract for a weather-monitoring satellite system.

Cybersecurity and Data Privacy

  • Lead breach counsel for a global space company that was the victim of a nation state-sponsored cyber-attack.
  • Advised several commercial space companies on cyber incident preparation and response.
  • Counsel to global space companies on data privacy and cybersecurity requirements in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia.
  • Extensive experience advising on international law applicable to commercial and nation-state activities in outer space, including under applicable outer space treaties.

Regulatory

  • Representing contractors with respect to various programs involving space systems.
  • Representing a major contractor regarding the development and production of spacecraft for use on US government programs.