The Outer Space Treaty (1967)

Space archaeology: how to protect lunar sites?

As private companies or NASA revive the space race to Mars, the Moon has once again become an important landmark in space exploration. How to protect the first sites of space exploration, when space is supposed to belong to everyone? The trace of the boot left on the lunar floor by Neil Armstrong in July 1969 is still intact, fifty years later.

Tardigrades on the Moon and space legal issues

In April 2019, the lunar lander Beresheet – a privately funded Israeli project – crashed on the Moon. On board the spacecraft, a few thousand dehydrated tardigrades had been attached to the “lunar library”. As for whether any of the DNA or tardigrades are still intact, that’s anyone’s guess. What about planetary protection and Article IX of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty?

Space Insurance & Space Law

Space insurance is governed, as all classes of insurance, by general insurance principles: mutualisation (the premium of the many pay for the claims of the few), fortuity (notion of random occurrence as opposed to prediction), indemnity (not to be richer after the loss than before), due intelligence (insurance should not alter the behaviour of the insured), and true and fair declaration of the risk.

Declaration on International Cooperation and the Needs of Developing Countries

The Declaration on International Cooperation in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space for the Benefit and in the Interest of All States, Taking into Particular Account the Needs of Developing Countries, adopted in 1996 (General Assembly Resolution 51/122), recognises the needs of developing countries.

Can Space Law apply on Earth?

Can Space Law apply on Earth? When I tell people about my interest in Space Law, they are usually surprised. They ask me what is Space Law and I try to give a simple definition. Recently, I have asked myself if Space Law could apply on Earth and the answer is of course: yes!

The differences between international and supranational organizations

What are the differences between international and supranational organizations? A supranational organization is an administrative structure that goes beyond the boundaries of states. It differs from international organizations in the fact that within it, decisions are made by institutions specific to the organization, and not by meeting of heads of state or their representatives.

The 1979 Moon Agreement

The 1979 Moon Agreement reaffirms and elaborates on many of the provisions of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty as applied to the Moon and other celestial bodies, providing that those bodies should be used exclusively for peaceful purposes, that their environments should not be disrupted, that the United Nations should be informed of the location and purpose of any station established on those bodies.

Public International Space Law

Based on the mentioned basic space law principles, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty provided a legal framework whose enlargement was made possible by subsequent treaty texts. All these provisions form the corpus juris spatialis or the fundamental Public International Space Law governing space activities.

The lawfulness of extraterrestrial real estate

Let’s have a look at the lawfulness of extraterrestrial real estate. Extraterrestrial real estate refers to claims of land ownership on other planets or natural satellites or parts of space by certain organisations, individuals, and artists. The topic of real estate on celestial bodies has been present since the 1890s.

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?

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).

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.

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?

X-Men and Space Law

X-Men: Dark Phoenix kicks off with the X-Men heading into outer space (and thus becoming astronauts, according to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty), responding to a distress signal from the Space Shuttle Endeavour to rescue the crew of the spacecraft/space object which has critically been damaged. As Space Law enthusiasts, the question we may ask ourselves is the following one: are there laws in outer space concerning astronauts? What are those? Were they respected by the X-Men?

Luca Parmitano & EVA 23

In July 2013, shortly after the EVA 23 began, Luca Parmitano’s helmet began filling with water, resulting in a termination of the spacewalk. As he made his way back to the airlock, the water covered his eyes and nose, blinding and nearly drowning him.

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.