National space policy 2030: Driving the space sector in Malaysia

Apr 2017 | No Comment

This paper summarizes the Malaysia National Space Policy 2030. It covers the purpose, structure and the fi ve thrusts of the policy

Sholehah Ismail

Head, Policy and International Section, National Space Agency, Malaysia

Dr Noordin Ahmad

Director General, National Space Agency, Malaysia

In the era where the country is heading towards the 4th Industrial Revolution and the Internet of Things (IoT),the reliance on space capabilities in daily activities, modernization of the state and economic development has increased accordingly. The demand on data, images and information obtained from satellites are seen to transform the existing services and industry into new industry. The wide usage of space technology and application in all sectors especially in era of IoT and liquid data where the usage of internet applications has become double, has bring huge potential to space sector to contribute as one of the economic contributor to Malaysia. With this trend and development, Malaysia aims to have access and utilize fully the space capabilities. Towards that, Malaysian Government has approved the National Space Policy 2030 on 7 February 2017. The introduction of the National Space Policy 2030 is an important moment in the history of the country after six decades of independence and also an important milestone in carving its niche in the space sector.

National Space Policy 2030 recognizes the needs for access to space capabilities to improve the services needed by the people and national security. It will also be as a reference in determining the directions of space sector development in Malaysia to utilize the space capabilities and align the priorities and commitment in this field strategically and put the appropriate resources to gain the best results. The government recognized that space activities especially satellite communication, remote sensing and navigation applications ties directly to national economic and societal wellbeing.

The Structure of National Space Policy 2030

Malaysia’s on-going social, environmental and economic wellbeing depend quite heavily on space capabilities. It increases day by day especially for the critical services. With various development, applications and activities, there is a real need to coordinate the space activities especially where space capabilities is to compliment and support other existing national policies in helping them to achieve their objectives. The National Space Policy 2030 will also help Malaysia to coordinate space issues domestically and internationally. There are a few reasons for Malaysia to have the space policy. Firstly, to harnessing the potential of space capabilities as a strategic step towards nation sovereignty, security and economy. Second, it becomes a basis to draft Malaysian Outer Space Act and ratify the international treaties. The last one is to compliment other national existing policies. There is a provision in the policy the need to ensure an adequate qualified, talented and competent workforce to develop and sustain space sector in Malaysia.

Figure 1 shows the structure of National Space Policy 2030. In general, the policy is aligned with two major policies, the National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (DSTIN) and Malaysian Aerospace Blueprint 2030. The mission of the policy is to develop the country’s potential in the space sector to support economic development and knowledge advancement for nation’s prosperity. Malaysia wishes to have continuous and cost effective space capability to achieve the national goals as follows:

i. Improved productivity Space capabilities such as the usage of satellite images and precision positioning can reduce cost, improve the services efficiency and encourages innovation.

ii. Empowering technology, infrastructure and human resources The country needs to strengthen her local space technology and infrastructure and also develop talented human resources to put Malaysia at par with developed countries.

iii. Optimizing the utilization of space capabilities Space capabilities will be utilized strategically and appropriate to gain the best results. It becomes a strategic contributor to social wellbeing, economic and natural resource management, environment, disaster management and national security.

iv. Comply the international treaties and instruments. Being a responsible nation, Malaysia will comply with the international instruments related to space while strengthening the international relationship and cooperation.

From the Figure 1, the gist of the policy consisted of five thrusts which covered all the strategy needs to achieve the objectives of the policy and will deliver the nation’s space capabilities.

Thrust 1: Strengthen the Governance to Optimize the Access to Space Capabilities.

Thrust 1 aims to strengthen the domestic coordination to optimize the access to the space capabilities for societal wellbeing, economic generating, natural resources and environment management and national security. Roles, activities and the existing acts and policies will be harmonized to minimize duplication among agencies and ensure there is also no duplication deed and existing policies to increase productivity and achievement of space sector development. It is also to ensure that the space sector is administered properly and adjusted to optimize the use of national resources. Effective legal and administrative framework is very important in ensuring a sustainable space development and to make sure the peaceful exploration and use of outer space.

In order to improve the domestic coordination, a National Space Committee (JANGKA) is set up (Figure 2) that will involve all spacerelated stakeholders to streamline the strategic direction of space sector development. Since space technology is a dual-purpose technology, JANGKA will get an advisory and information sharing from National Security Council (NSC) for the security aspect, and the Malaysian Aerospace Council (MAC) for the commercial aspect. Under JANGKA, it will has a Space Coordination Committee chaired by the Malaysian Space Agency (ANGKASA), an agency under Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) to coordinate space activities with states, industries and research institution.

As a space participant, Malaysia is seriously looking forward to its national space legislation and putting the law into practice. The need for a national space legislation is in fact responding to numerous factors including requirements imposed by international law that states should be held responsible as well as internationally liable for their national space activities (Saari, 2014). So, the Malaysian Outer Space Act will be formulated to create clear regulations and guidelines in administer, coordinate and to control space activities at all level of users either government agencies, industries or individual. With this act, the Malaysian Government will be able to monitor and supervise its national space activities effectively in accordance with international law. Moreover, Malaysia will be able to deal with the international responsibility and liability of its nationals appropriately at the national level and ratify the International Outer Space Treaties.

Thrust 2: Focus on Space Technology, Infrastructure and Applications Significant to the Country

The Malaysian government’s efforts will be more focused on the development of space technology, infrastructure and applications that have an impact on safety, economic and social, especially in the three focus areas of the space sector; remote sensing, communications and navigation. The Government recognizes the combination these three focus areas can help and contribute to ability and critical needs such as planning and management of natural resources and environment, weather and climate prediction, the search and rescue (SAR), disaster management, infrastructure monitoring, mapping, navigation and safety.

Malaysia encourages access to programs that can support the attraction of investment, research and innovation. The space sector in Malaysia cannot be developed and implemented if we do not have the appropriate and adequate infrastructure. Thus, because of space technology can be utilized by all sectors, blue ocean strategy will be implemented to meet the desires and importance needs of the country. Enhancement of space infrastructure can improve the ability of the country towards strengthening the sovereignty and security and also increase the activities that can contribute to the economic generation

Thrust 3: Accelerating Development of Space Science and Technology with Expertise

This thrust is aligned with the national desires to be as scientific country for socio-economic transformation and inclusive growth, research, development, commercialisation and innovation (R, D, C and I) to drive space science and technology development.

Space field will be placed as one of the national R&D priority area due to its contribution to the country. The generation of knowledge will ensure that the country has the ability and the right understanding in order to deal with natural phenomena that affect the community such as the effect of climate change, natural disasters, unsustainable natural resources management and increasing of man-made applications development. Space is an industry which needs a long term view. It is based on risky early R&D and a high skilled workforce. Malaysia space industry need to fill skills and knowledge gaps within the industry and workforce. If left unaddressed, these shortages will affect the ability to fulfil its growth potential. The initiatives under this thrust will also help to retain Malaysia’s talent base to help further space economic development and efforts to create and grow other target industries. Highly skilled human resources is an important element in driving the development of the space sector. Human resources development take a long time and need to be implemented continuously and in line with the R, D, C and I, industry development and infrastructure usages. This thrust also stressed the need of close engagement and cooperation between research institutions and industry. Besides that, the awareness programs will be strengthened to educate publics on the importance of space sciences, technology and innovation.

Thrust 4: Contribute to the Economy and Nation’s Prosperity

Space technologies have changed the existing industries and services and is able to create new industry. To ensure the continuity of the space sector development, the space industry should be driven although in small size and selective. It will open up opportunities to the local industry to be involved in developing, improving and exploiting the products, services and space applications. Currently, contribution of space to Malaysia GDP is still small compared with other major sectors. Economic benefits contributed by the space sector is estimated around RM 5.6 billion by 2020. As the largest contributor to the national revenue is from the space applications and services, the policy will focus more on the downstream industry. Therefore, a space industry strategic plan is to be developed soon.

Thrust 5: Increase and Strengthen the International Cooperation and Relationship

The development of space capabilities requires international relationship and cooperation in space technology and applications for peaceful use. Malaysia will strengthen and enhance its international relationship and collaboration to complement its national space capabilities. Active participation in the regional and international scientific initiatives and awareness program are necessary for a great returns and benefits to the national space science and technology initiatives and development. Malaysia will continue to support the international legal framework for ensuring the peaceful exploration and use of outer space and will ratify the international space treaties and instruments being a responsible space player to all her space activities.


The burgeoning of space activities and the huge involvement of public and private sectors insist Malaysia to formulate its National Space Policy. By having the policy, the Malaysian Government will be able to safeguard the interest of the country by recognizing the needs for access to space capabilities to improve the services needed by the people and national security, and to monitor and supervise its national space activities effectively in accordance with international law. The policy will become a reference and guideline in determining the directions of space sector development, to utilize the space capabilities and align with the national priorities. This will promote growth and expansion of space activity in the country. Moreover, Malaysia is focused to uphold the international responsibility and liability of its nationals appropriately at the national level. Therefore, support from all sectors; government, industry and academic are required to capitalize the space sector towards sovereignty and sustainable high income nation.


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