Legal Framework of Communications Programs in the European Space Agency

The establishment of the ESC gave Europe the necessary impetus to start applications programs. In 1968, the third ESC ministerial meeting at Bad Godesberg, Federal Republic of Germany, unequivocally assigned space applications to ESRO, created the Committee of Senior Officials as an advisory board, and allocated a small budget for studies on application satellites. The Committee of Senior Officials set up a working group specifically to study possible European involvement in communication satellite programs. This working group consisted not only of representatives of the ESC and the space organizations ELDO and ESRO but also of the potential users of the space communication system: the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the European Conference on Post and Telecommunications (CEPT). The working group reported in 1970 to the ESC, which decided in July of the same year that ESRO should undertake a communication satellite program leading to the launch of a telecommunication satellite by the end of the decade that would satisfy the requirements of the CEPT and the EBU. At the same time, ESRO was involved in preliminary studies on an aeronautical satellite system that would be developed jointly by the United States, Canada and ESRO. ESRO was also studying the feasibility of a European meteorological satellite program. This article will discuss the legal framework only of communication satellites and will touch on other applications programs only when necessary for clarification.