Space debris

Is the orbital environment a natural resource?

“Our orbital environment is a natural resource. Just as we need to protect our rivers, forests and oceans on Earth, we believe our orbits need to be monitored and maintained in order to be sustainable”. When a valuable, naturally-occurring resource, is difficult to substitute, its preservation is of prime importance.

Harmful contamination, harmful interference and space debris

For this new Space Law article on Space Legal Issues, let us study the concept of harmful contamination, harmful interference and that of space debris, as it is presented in Article IX of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, Magna Carta of space law.

Principles Relevant to the Use of Nuclear Power Sources in Outer Space

A positive step towards protecting the human environment was taken on December 14, 1992, with the adoption by the U.N. General Assembly of the Principles Relevant to the Use of Nuclear Power Sources in Outer Space. These eleven Principles, with the Resolution adopting them, culminate efforts going back to 1972.

The law of salvage

The law of salvage is a principle of Maritime Law whereby any person who helps recover another person’s ship or cargo in peril at sea is entitled to a reward commensurate with the value of the property salved. Maritime law is inherently international, and although salvage laws vary from one country to another, generally there are established conditions to be met to allow a claim of salvage.

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.

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?

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 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?

Viking, the first Swedish satellite

Viking, the first Swedish satellite, was launched on an Ariane 1 rocket as a piggyback payload together with the French satellite SPOT 1, on February 22, 1986. Operations ended on May 12, 1987. Viking was used to explore plasma processes in the magnetosphere and the ionosphere.

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?

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?

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.

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?

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 anniversary of the foundation of the Bulgarian state.

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.

A conference by Jean-Yves Le Gall

Space law will develop in the upcoming years, there will be more and more space legal issues. France set an example with the LOI n° 2008-518 du 3 juin 2008 relative aux opérations spatiales. Americans want to “set the rules” on the Moon. It is a subject in full development.

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.

Palapa A1, the first Indonesian satellite

Palapa A1, the first Indonesian satellite, was launched on July 8, 1976. The first communications satellite to be owned by a developing nation, was launched from Florida by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The purpose was to unify the telecommunications of the nation.

Momo-3, the first private Japanese rocket to reach outer space

Momo-3 is the first private Japanese rocket to reach outer space. The Momo-3 rocket, an unmanned, 10-metre, one-ton sounding rocket, of the Japanese start-up Interstellar Technologies, has successfully taken off on May 4, 2019, and flown to outer space.

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