Earth orbits

Principles Relating to Remote Sensing of the Earth from Outer Space

The Principles Relating to Remote Sensing of the Earth from Outer Space were adopted by consensus on December 3, 1986. They provide a set of non-binding yet agreed and politically relevant principles to guide the activities of remote sensing by the United Nations member states.

The Electromagnetic Spectrum

Everything in the universe emits some kind of “light” (electromagnetic radiation or “EM” radiation, for short) but often it is not the kind of light that we are used to. This visible part consists of the colours that we see in a rainbow. Each of these colours actually corresponds to a different energy and a different wavelength.

An introduction to Remote Sensing

Remote sensing is defined by the English Oxford Dictionary as “the scanning of the Earth by satellite or high-flying aircraft in order to obtain information about it”. Remote sensing is the acquisition of information about an object or phenomenon without making physical contact with the object and thus in contrast to on-site observation, especially the Earth.

The Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), an independent agency of the United States government, regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable in all fifty states of the United States of America, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

An introduction to Space Applications

This article aims at comprehending the benefits of space applications from a user perspective, focusing on the creation of value in the space information value chain and examine space applications with a primary focus on Earth‐orbiting satellite systems and other complementary technologies.

An introduction to Orbital Mechanics

Orbital mechanics is the application of the laws of physics to describing the motion of spacecraft. It is one of the fundamental topics in astronautics and is essential to the design, implementation, and operation of a space mission. As well as defining the sorts of orbits that are possible, orbital mechanics is needed to determine spacecraft trajectories.

Badr-1, the first Pakistani satellite

Badr-1, meaning Full Moon-1 in Urdu, is the first Pakistani satellite. The Badr-1 was Pakistan’s first indigenously developed and manufactured digital communications and experimental artificial satellite. The spacecraft was launched into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) by China on July 16, 1990.

The 1921 Flag Right Declaration

The Declaration recognising the Right to a Flag of States having no Sea-coast is a 1921 multilateral treaty which legally recognised that a landlocked state (a sovereign state entirely enclosed by land, or whose only coastlines lie on closed seas) could be a maritime flag state; that is, that a landlocked state could register ships and sail them on the sea under its own flag.

Flag state and Space Law

With space objects, like vessels, a central register of objects launched into outer space was established and is maintained by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The mandatory system of registering objects launched into outer space (for identification), like that of registering ships, contributes to the development of International Space Law governing the exploration and use of outer space. Let’s have a look at the similarities between the notion of flag state and Space Law.

Orbital slots and space congestion

Today, any company or nation planning to launch a satellite to GEO must apply to the ITU for an orbital slot, and popular regions over North America, Europe, and eastern Asia have become so congested that few or no slots are left for new entrants to the market. With most of the so-called hot orbital slots taken, what opportunities remain for satellite operators to develop new positions or make better use of the existing slots?

Morelos 1, the first Mexican satellite

On June 17, 1985, Mexico put its first artificial satellite, Morelos 1, into a geostationary orbit, and the country entered the satellite era. Its trip into outer space was truly an odyssey, with the launch taking place aboard the NASA Space Shuttle Discovery, from the Kennedy Center, in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and just a few months later, Morelos 2 was sent up.

The legality of artificial shooting stars

A satellite launched to create rains of shooting stars on order? A Japanese company launched on January 17, 2019 a satellite in outer space. It’s goal? Create rains of shooting stars on demand. The Japanese company Astro Live Experiences (ALE) today responds to an old dream: its founder claims to have found a way to trigger a shower of shooting stars to order. The first could be visible from Japan in 2020.

Arabsat-1A, the first Saudi Arabian satellite

Arabsat-1A, the first Saudi Arabian satellite, was a Saudi Arabian communications satellite operated by Arabsat and launched by Ariane 3 on February 8, 1985. Founded in 1976 by the twenty-one member-states of the Arab League, Arabsat has been serving the growing needs of the Arab world for over forty years, operating from its headquarter in Riyadh-KSA and two Satellite control stations in Riyadh and Tunis.

Satellite constellations, a race is engaged

Covering 100% of the planet in Internet access from outer space, this is the project of several firms including SpaceX, Amazon and OneWeb; the objective is to send in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) thousands of small satellites or satellite constellations. Not all competitors are at the same level of progress in this project. What are the space legal issues there?

What is orbital station-keeping?

For many Earth satellites, the effects of the non-Keplerian forces, like the deviations of the gravitational force of the Earth from that of a homogeneous sphere, the gravitational forces from Sun/Moon, solar radiation pressure and air drag, must be counteracted. The orbital manoeuvres made by thruster burns that are needed to keep a spacecraft in a particular assigned orbit are called orbital station-keeping.

Launch period and launch window

A launch period refers to the days that the rocket can launch to reach its intended orbit. A launch window indicates the time frame on a given day in the launch period that the rocket can launch to reach its intended orbit. The dynamics change from mission to mission, and determining the launch period and launch window is an important part of the overall flight design.

Parking orbit and graveyard orbit

Parking orbit and graveyard orbit are two used Earth orbits. An orbit is the curved path through which objects in space move around a planet or a star. The 1967 Treaty’s regime and customary law enshrine the principle of non-appropriation and freedom of access to orbital positions.

Intasat, the first Spanish satellite

Intasat, the first Spanish artificial satellite launched in a Sun-synchronous orbit culminating at about one thousand and five hundred kilometres to study the ionosphere, was a milestone. It was, as one of the people involved said, “making a satellite that would teach us how to make satellites”.

Bloostar, sending satellites via stratospheric balloons and space law

Bloostar, designed by the private Spanish company Zero 2 Infinity to launch small satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), reinvents access to outer space, thanks to stratospheric balloons. Bloostar is a launch vehicle currently in development, intended to compete in the small satellite launch market. It is based on the rockoon concept. What about space law?

The legal status of Chinese space-based solar power stations

There might soon be Chinese space-based solar power stations orbiting around the Earth: what would their legal status be? This breathtaking project might revolutionize our relationship to energy, outer space, and History. It might also of course raise deeply interesting space law related questions.