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?

Monaco in space

For this new Space Law article on Space Legal Issues, let us have a look at Monaco and its space program. How is the Principality doing in space? Has it signed and ratified the Outer Space Treaty? Does the microstate have any space assets? Let us have a look. Ad Astra!

Satellite launch contract

How does the satellite launch contract works? How is it created? In this area, we can really speak of the launch market. The last few years have in fact seen the European company Arianespace, long in a situation of quasi-monopoly in matters of commercial launches, widely challenged by companies not only American and Russian, but also Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and Brazilian.

Towards an International Space Agency?

It is in the light of all this questioning, and of all this projects that we fully understand the need for an International Space Agency (ISA) which will establish a common program and course of action. It would define the objectives of humanity on a short, medium and long term. The first one could be the organisation of mission on Mars.

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!

Commercial Space Transportation Activities

The Office of Commercial Space Transportation, generally referred to as FAA/AST, is the branch of the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that approves any commercial rocket launch operations in the case of a U.S. launch operator and/or a launch from the U.S..

Will outer space soon become inaccessible?

The growth of debris in outer space is exponential and collisions between discarded satellites could well trigger a chain reaction known as “Kessler Syndrome”. It would then be impossible to put satellites in orbit.

The Commercial Lunar Payload Services program

The Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) is a NASA program to contract transportation services able to send small robotic landers and rovers to the Moon with the goals of exploration, in situ resource utilisation (ISRU), and lunar science to support the Artemis lunar program.

The Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships program

NextSTEP is a public-private partnership model that seeks commercial development of deep space exploration capabilities to support more extensive human spaceflight missions in and beyond cislunar space: the space near Earth that extends just beyond the Moon. NextSTEP is managed by NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems (AES).

The Commercial Crew Development program

NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program is investing financial and technical resources to stimulate efforts within the private sector to develop and demonstrate safe, reliable, and cost-effective space transportation capabilities. The Program manages Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) partnership agreements with U.S. industry totalling eight hundred million American dollars for commercial cargo transportation demonstrations.

The Commercial Resupply Services contracts

The U.S. Space Agency is looking to deepen its ties with commercial partners; the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) are a series of contracts awarded by NASA from 2008 to 2016 for delivery of cargo and supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) on commercially operated spacecraft. Continuing its “commercial push”, NASA has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the next round of contracts under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract.

The Air Mail Act of 1925

In our researches on Space Law, working on the New Space effect and the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) NASA program, let’s have a look at the Air Mail Act of 1925, also known as the Kelly Act, which turned over the mail service to private contractors.

The Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program

The Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) was a NASA program, announced on January 18, 2006, to coordinate the delivery of crew and cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) by private companies. NASA challenged the U.S. industry to establish capabilities and services that could open New Space markets and support the crew and cargo transportation needs of the International Space Station (ISS).

The history of reusable launch systems

With the invention of rocket propulsion in the first half of the twentieth century, space travel became a technical possibility. The subject of reusable launch systems presents a certain industrial sensitivity. In a context of economic competition between space launchers, especially between Ariane (Europe) and SpaceX (USA), it is interesting to propose a historical synthesis of reusable launch systems projects developed in the past decades.

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?

From Antarctic tourism to Moon tourism

Humanity has always wanted to conquer more and more territory. Deserts, islands, tropical forests any area that seemed liveable, have been occupied by men. On Earth, Antarctica was one of the last places that remained untouched, but step-by-step, men are colonising this land of ice. The Moon is another current challenge for the more adventurous men. Antarctica and the Moon have a lot more in common.

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.

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?

An interview with Michel Viso

An interview with French veterinarian Michel Viso from the Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) in Paris about exobiology, Enceladus, Europa, Titan, French spationauts, and extraterritorial life. Could we terraform Mars? Could we live on the Moon? How to define life? What is the future of space law?

Project Kuiper, a satellite constellation by Amazon

Amazon has recently confirmed Project Kuiper, a satellite constellation aiming at providing Internet access to ninety-five per cent of the world’s population. There will soon be an intense low-orbit traffic around the planet.