The Liability Convention (1972)

The laws of space

With this new Space Law article on Space Legal Issues, let’s have a look at the laws of space and outline the field of international space law and explain its main principles, focusing on the five UN space treaties. It will present the international law‐making process and examine the ability of existing international legal instruments to address current and future space activities and challenges.

The legal status of space debris

Considering the growing problem of space debris, sometimes referred to as space waste or space garbage, let’s study the legal status of space debris, and ask ourselves, for this new space law article on Space Legal Issues, the following question: are space debris space objects?

Sea Launch and Launching States

Sea Launch is a multinational spacecraft launch service that used a mobile maritime launch platform (an above-ground facility from which a rocket-powered missile or space vehicle is vertically launched) for equatorial launches of commercial payloads on specialised Zenit-3SL rockets. The private launching company was active from 1995 to 2014.

Responsibility and Liability in Space Law

Responsibility and Liability are two important terms in international law pointing to two fundamental principles. Article VI of the Outer Space Treaty speaks of the international responsibility of states for national activities in space to be in conformity with the treaty, and Article VII of the same treaty, of the liability of states for damage towards other states or their nationals or property.

In-orbit transfer of ownership

For this new Space Law article on Space Legal Issues, let’s focus on the mechanism and consequences of, concerning space objects (especially satellites), the in-orbit transfer of ownership. Let’s focus on Satellite Ownership Transfers and the Liability of the Launching States. A space object may be sold/bought while in outer space. There is no objection by principle to a transfer of registration.

Jurisdiction over a multi-component space object

In our research on Space Law and on the notion of Space object, let’s have a look at how jurisdiction over a multi-component space object is managed. In this case, by the terms “multi-component space object”, we will look at a space object composed of many space objects, each under the jurisdiction and control of a different state. The best example is the International Space Station (ISS).

Jurisdiction and control by an intergovernmental organisation

For this new Space Law article on Space Legal Issues, let’s focus on the exercise of jurisdiction and control over a space object by an international intergovernmental organisation. Let’s study the case of the ISS module Columbus. Which entity would be internationally liable? Which entity has jurisdiction and control over the space object?

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.

The 1976 Registration Convention

The 1976 Registration Convention, or Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space, which obligates Parties to register launches of all objects launched into Earth orbit or into outer space with an appropriate national space agency, was considered and negotiated by the COPUOS Legal Subcommittee from 1962 to 1975.

Bulgaria 1300, the first Bulgarian satellite

The spacecraft Bulgaria 1300, the first Bulgarian satellite, or Interkosmos 22, was a research satellite, that carried a set of plasma, particles, fields, and optical experiments designed and constructed in Bulgaria on a satellite bus provided by the Soviet Union as part of the Interkosmos program. Bulgaria’s first artificial satellite was named after the 1300th anniversary of the foundation of the Bulgarian state.

The Beagle 2 British Mars lander

The Beagle 2 British Mars lander was a Mars lander initially mounted on the top deck of the Mars Express Orbiter. The lander was released on a ballistic trajectory towards Mars from the Orbiter on December 19, 2003 on a course to land on Mars on December 25, 2003. Isidis Planitia was chosen as the landing site. No signals were received following the scheduled landing and after over a month of attempts at contact the mission was declared lost.

The 1972 Liability Convention

Elaborating on Article VII of the Outer Space Treaty, the 1972 Liability Convention provides that a launching State shall be absolutely liable to pay compensation for damage caused by its space objects on the surface of the Earth or to aircraft, and liable for damage due to its faults in outer space. The Convention also provides for procedures for the settlement of claims for damages.

Luna 1 and its legal status

Luna 1, also known as Mechta (meaning “Dream” in Russian), was launched on January 2, 1959 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Luna 1, the first of a series of Soviet automatic interplanetary stations successfully launched in the direction of the Moon, was the first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Earth’s Moon.

Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space

On June 10, 2014, Russia introduced to the Conference on Disarmament an updated draft of its working paper with China, “Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects”.

Brilliant Pebbles

Brilliant Pebbles was a ballistic missile defense (BMD) system proposed in 1987, at the end of the Cold War. Brilliant Pebbles was the idea of Lowell Wood and Edward Teller, “the father of the hydrogen bomb”, of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).

Space weapons, satellites and anti-satellite systems

The only way to prevent Article IV (1967 Outer Space Treaty) from constituting an empty provision is a collective commitment by states aimed at updating international and national laws on outer space and the discipline of space weapons.

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?

Azur, the first German satellite

Azur (also called GRS-A), launched into a near-polar orbit from the Vandenberg Air Force Base (a United States Air Force Base in California) on November 8, 1969, was the first German artificial satellite.

The legal status of Stratolaunch and the future of orbital launch systems

Stratolaunch has recently taken flight for the first time, on April 13, 2019. It must theoretically be used to carry and drop at a 10-kilometre altitude a small rocket that will then light its engine, and will propel itself to outer space to place satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). What is the legal status of Stratolaunch and the future of orbital launch systems?

Industrial commitments on legal aspects of active debris removal

Among the several issues related to the space activities, the one concerning the space debris removal has now become one of the most urgent to address: the number of space objects orbiting around our planet is likely to increase and threaten the safety of the present and future space activities.