Space object

The Space Legal Issues with Mega-Constellations

Nowadays, we hear more and more about constellations and mega-constellations projects consisting of hundreds or thousands of small spacecraft. A satellite constellation is a group of artificial satellites working together. Is it legal? What are the space legal issues?

Satellite construction contract

Space contracts are not completely new contracts: they borrow pre-existing molds. However, contractual practice is innovating in order to respond to new needs generated by new techniques: innovation is reflected here in the very fine adaptation to the subject of the contract.

Marine pollution caused by space debris

Even the fauna is scarce. “There are few fishes in this area because ocean currents do not pass through and do not provide nutrients to this area, which makes marine life scarce” say some specialists. Space objects can therefore crash without risk in this area, before sinking four kilometers deep.

The history of space elevators

The promoters of space elevators generally do not fail to mention the first published concrete attempt, that of the Tower of Babel. Literally “The Gate of the Gods”, it was a ziggurat, a two-story temple-tower, supposed to allow the Babylonians to reach a sacred domain where they would find their supreme god, who lived in the highest heavens.

Towards the taxation of LEO activities?

Taxation of LEO activities seems to be a solution. The appropriate model could be the following one: if a State A wants to launch a satellite or a constellation of satellites, it will have to pay X depending on the orbit (and how already saturated and used the orbit is), the size of the space object or the number of space objects, and finally and why not, depending on its intended purposes (whether scientific, commercial, military…).

The legal status of 3D printed food in outer space

There is no 3D printed food in space that is eaten by astronauts. It would be useful to enforce a new legal regime for these space objects, to ensure that the development of this method is not restrained by the procedure created for objects sent into space from Earth.

Why does the FAA uses 50 miles for defining outer space?

“Why does the FAA uses 50 miles for defining outer space?” is a question some of us might have asked ourselves, especially when looking at the question of the delimitation of outer space, the different approaches – spatialist or functionalist – to space activities.

Solar sails and their legal status

Solar sails (also called light sails, or photon sails) are a method of spacecraft propulsion using radiation pressure exerted by sunlight on large mirrors. Based on the physics, a number of spaceflight missions to test solar propulsion and navigation, have been proposed since the 1980s. Let’s have a quick look at them and the legal status of these particular spacecraft.

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 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.