Space object

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 Delimitation between Airspace and Outer Space

For this new Space Law article on Space Legal Issues, let’s study the Delimitation between Airspace and Outer Space. The issue of where airspace ends and outer space begins has been debated since the 1950s. This legal issue is important since Air Law and Space Law are governed by vastly different legal regimes.

The legal status of a missile

In this new Space Law article, we will for Space Legal Issues analyse the legal status of a missile. What is a missile? Is it an aircraft? A space object when it is oriented towards outer space? What if a missile passes through outer space, above the Kármán line, like suborbital flights: does it become a space object? Let’s remember that the first rockets were developed as missiles, those space objects, like the V-2, were missiles. That is what we will study.

Sectoral space regulations

Since the first commercial telecommunications satellites were put into orbit in 1965, there has been a real economic explosion in this sector, with the proliferation of networks, whether at national, regional or global level. International (Intelsat, Inmarsat, Interspoutnik) or regional (Eutelsat, Arabsat) satellite communications organisations have been established to manage these commercial systems.

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 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 situ resource utilization

In space exploration, in situ (which means “in its original position or place” in Latin) resource utilization (ISRU) is the practice of collection, processing, storing and use of materials found or manufactured on other astronomical objects (the Moon, Mars, asteroids, etc.) that replace materials that would otherwise be brought from Earth.

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.

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.

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?

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.

The first European satellites

The first satellites of the European Space Research Organisation (ESRO), a pair of satellites that formed the basis of ESRO’s scientific program, concentrated on solar and cosmic radiation and its interaction with Earth. ESRO-1A was launched on October 3, 1968 and re-entered on June 26, 1970; ESRO-1B was launched on October 1, 1969 and re-entered on November 23, 1969.

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 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.