Space Exploration and Innovation
A legacy rooted in shaping today’s space landscape
A universe of opportunity
The complex legal, regulatory, and technical issues facing businesses and investors across the space value chain require lawyers with in-depth knowledge and experience spanning diverse areas of law. Our multi-disciplinary Space Exploration and Innovation team tackles issues across all needs, from securing funding and navigating regulatory hurdles to protecting critical intellectual property and overcoming complex disputes. And with lawyers in key space industry hubs–Washington, DC, the Florida Space Coast, and Houston–our integrated team is everywhere you need us to be.
Our proven track record of delivering solutions to start-ups and industry titans alike, particularly in the satellite telecommunications field, positions us to provide forward-looking and innovative solutions to space companies and their investors. Our deep bench of talented and collaborative lawyers and technical subject matter leaders have extensive government and private sector experience in the areas of telecommunications, national security and defense, regulatory agencies, government affairs, and government contracts. Beyond DLA Piper’s rich history with the space industry and deep experience in complementary industries, our presence in more than 40 countries throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific, positions us to provide innovative solutions to space companies and their investors across the globe.
“With lawyers worldwide, we’re well positioned to provide you with regional and global strategies for market entry and product development.”
A History with space, telecom and satellite regulations
The space sector is extensively regulated – on matters ranging from orbital debris and space sustainability to spectrum sharing and imaging the Earth from orbit. The rapid development of innovative technologies has resulted in increasingly complex regulatory frameworks. At the core of our capabilities is a rich history advising on regulations and policy within the telecommunications and satellite industries. We help clients navigate these challenges in alignment with their strategic priorities, business objectives, and operational capabilities.
We are trusted advisors in the regulation of the global space industry, guiding our clients’ business decisions at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
From concept to commercialization
Emerging Growth and Venture Capital – Our work traditionally begins prior to company formation and advances through the evolution of an emerging company’s life. The rapidly growing space industry will require significant capital investment as commercial opportunities arise. Our team has the strong technical, legal and industry knowledge crucial to guiding early-stage space companies during their most critical inflection points, particularly helping them raise the capital necessary to take their vision to market.
Regulatory – We have represented satellite communication providers for decades before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other regulatory bodies around the world, beginning with the advent of commercial satellites in the mid-1970s. As a result, we are annually ranked as a top telecommunications firm in Washington, DC. Our deep relationships with DC regulators and history allows us to provide nimble regulatory compliance advice to clients who are at the cutting-edge of emerging industries such as space exploration ensuring that space companies comply with all applicable laws and treaties.
Government Contracting – For over half a century, government contracting activity has been a driving force in the development of the space sector. Today, federal agency spending on civilian and defense space programs continues to grow, creating significant opportunities for companies in the space sector and adjacent areas. In this regard, our nationally ranked Government Contracts practice has extensive experience supporting both traditional space sector companies (e.g., aerospace and defense, satellite imaging, launch) as well as companies operating in more nascent, space-related industries (e.g., zero-gravity R&D, robotics, space infrastructure). Our work with space sector clients encompasses all aspects of the contract formation and administration process, including but not limited to strategic guidance on setting up government-focused business units; advise and counseling related to bid and proposal development; FAR and DFARS compliance; contract and subcontract negotiations; bid protest and contract disputes; and support on audits and investigations. Moreover, we boast deep experience with a range of different contracting mechanisms, including procurement contracts, Space Act Agreements, grants, cooperative research and development agreements, SBIR contracts, Other Transactions Agreements, and other non-traditional contracting mechanisms. Our Government Contracts group also works seamlessly with our corporate practices, frequently advising on risks and mitigations related to mergers and acquisitions involving government contractors in the space sector.
Global Employment – Space companies worldwide operate in a rapidly-evolving sector and face complex labor and employment law challenges. While these companies are subject to labor laws that govern other businesses, the distinct nature of their operations and niche workforce can create novel legal challenges. We solve these global issues ranging across regulatory compliance, employment contracts, employee benefits and compensation, labor relations; and training and development. The world’s leading brands and businesses also rely on us to resolve high-stakes employment disputes. These include non-compete and class action litigation, whistleblower and governmental investigations and other contentious matters. Our lawyers identify workforce risks, and opportunities these companies need to grow their businesses.
Blue-Chip Investors – We are annually ranked as the most active law firms involved with private equity and venture capital transactions. As a result, private investment funds regularly turn to us to assist them in their investment activities, including in acquiring, financing, restructuring, and disposing of portfolio companies in many emerging industries, particularly the space industry where funding innovation is necessary for growth.
IP Strategies – New technologies pose numerous challenges and opportunities for rights holders. We are regularly involved in high-profile matters involving the complex intersection of new technological developments and intellectual property law. Our lawyers also provide extensive counseling to rights holders regarding the implications of new and emerging technologies in the space and satellite industry.
Transactional – Strategic transactions fuel transformation and innovation. With deep experience representing aerospace, defense and telecommunications clients, we leverage our experience, judgment, and efficiency to seamlessly execute strategic transactions. We represent acquirers, targets, investment bankers, commercial banks, and sources of finance – including private equity and venture capital funds - in public and private mergers and acquisitions. Our team has a deep and practical understanding of “what’ s market” having represented diverse US and foreign clients.
National Security and Global Trade – In the emerging space sector where global companies from every region rely on trade, government policies shape global markets. At the intersection of law, government, and politics, our National Security and Global Trade team helps space exploration companies, government entities, and investors doing business in the US and across borders navigate complex and nuanced trade landscapes driven by ever evolving geopolitical forces.
Dispute Resolution and Liability Issues – As invested partners and problem solvers, we offer dynamic strategies to protect your priorities and a track record that offers peace of mind. DLA Piper has one of the largest litigation teams in the world, which includes a dedicated group of aerospace litigators with substantial experience as lead counsel in high-profile litigation and global investigations. We balance legal and regulatory risks with your commercial priorities to tackle disputes without disrupting your long-term goals for growth.
Licensing and Strategic Transactions – When it is time for space exploration companies to grow, pursue a transformative collaboration or seek an exit transaction, DLA has the depth and breadth of experience to be a strategic partner. Whether through an acquisition, joint venture or collaboration, structured license arrangements, IPO, or recapitalization or return investor capital, we help clients craft, negotiate, and execute agreements and transactions that enhance and reflect the value they have created.
Government Affairs – We combine political intelligence, sector insights, and a nuanced understanding of market conditions to deliver solutions that put policy on your side. Our bench of former regulators, prosecutors, and government officials translate a nuanced understanding of policy and administrative operations into strategies tailored to space exploration and other leading-edge companies.
Awards and Recognition
News and Insights
FCC adopts Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to establish framework for licensing ISAM...
20 February 2024 .2 minute read
FCC Space Bureau hosts panel on earth station licensing process: Top points
22 January 2024 .2 minute read