The Rescue Agreement (1968)

The Universe, a zone of lawlessness

This spacecraft, the Tesla Roadster, was not going to measure anything, observe anything. It was a grand publicity stunt, at the cost of “intentional pollution” of outer space. The radio installed on board the imitation vehicle, and supposed to play the song Life on Mars? by David Bowie was too much detail: there is not even a sound in space!

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 governing space activities.

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?

NASA opens ISS to tourists

NASA decided to sell fifty-eight million dollars tickets for the International Space Station, paving the way for more space tourism. The U.S. Space Agency announced to open the ISS to space tourists from 2020. A dozen passengers could stay there each year for a maximum of thirty days. The move reflects the Space Agency’s broader push to encourage commercial partnerships and activities at the ISS. What are the legal aspects?

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 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.

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?

The Skylab strike and the need for an outer space labour law

The Skylab strike, a one-day sit-down strike in outer space, is a work slowdown instigated by the crew of the American Skylab 4 mission. With the privatisation of outer space, is there a need for an outer space labour law?

The legal status of biosatellites and their payloads

Biosatellites are a special type of satellites taking living organisms (plants, animals, organisms…) into outer space for the study of their behaviour. Are those biosatellites spacecraft or satellites? Are they space objects? Is the biological matter considered a payload of the space object and therefore a space object itself? Are those living beings envoys of mankind?

The legal status of objects printed in outer space

The notion of space object will become of more practical importance with the expansion of space activities (International Space Station, space tourism, Moon, Mars…). What will be the legal status of objects built in outer space? Will outer-space-3D-printed objects be considered space objects? What about an object made from extraterrestrial material or a mix of extraterrestrial and earth-brought material?

The Rescue Agreement of 1968

The Rescue Agreement of 1968 provides that States shall rescue and assist astronauts in distress and promptly return them to the Launching State, and that States shall provide assistance to Launching States in recovering space objects that return to Earth outside the territory of the Launching State.

Interkosmos

Interkosmos (1967) was a Soviet space program designed to help the Soviet Union’s allies with manned and unmanned space missions. The program of international cooperation had primarily political objectives: establishing good relations with the countries of Eastern Europe.

The definition of Space Law

Space Law, the laws applying to human activities in outer space, the law on space activities… What are we talking about? What is the definition of Space Law? Let’s look at some definitions and let’s make remarks on this multidisciplinary activity.

Space tourism legal aspects

Despite its exorbitant cost, space tourism is developing considerably. Tourism venture Virgin Galactic sent its spaceplane into space for the second time in February 2019, qualifying all three people on the flight for their commercial astronaut wings. Let’s look at the legal aspects of this new activity.

Valentina Tereshkova becomes the First Woman in Space

Valentina Tereshkova is the first woman to have flown in outer space on June 16, 1963. Before her recruitment as a cosmonaut, Tereshkova was a textile-factory assembly worker and an amateur skydiver. She has been selected from more than four hundred applicants and five finalists to pilot Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963.

Stratobus or the legal status of High Altitude Platform Stations

Stratobus is an autonomous stratospheric platform concept halfway between the satellite and the drone. Complementing the global satellite coverage, what is the legal status of those High Altitude Platform Stations or geostationary aircraft?

The 1963 Declaration of Legal Principles

The Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, RES 1962 (XVIII), General Assembly eighteenth session, December 13, 1963, is the second important text concerning Space Law.

Yuri Gagarin and the birth of Space Law

On April 12, 1961, Soviet Yuri Gagarin became the first man to travel into space. This event marked the beginning of manned flight programs and would, a few years later, give birth to principles establishing/organising the status of humans in outer space.

SpaceX debris on the French coast

In April 2018, strollers discovered on the beach of the Molène Archipelago (in Finistère, a department of France) what looks like the nose cone (the forwardmost section of a rocket, guided missile or aircraft) of a Dragon capsule produced by the SpaceX company.