Space – Legal Research

 

Quotations of Relevant Law

 

  1. Space Debris

 

-           “According to the United States Space Command catalogue, over a span of forty years spacecraft have deposited nearly 10,000 traceable objects of measurable size into earth's orbit. 9 Scientists estimate that objects between one centimeter and ten centimeters in size number as high as 110,000 pieces. 10 The number of smaller fragments between one millimeter and one centimeter is believed to be at least 35 million. 11 The number of microparticularate pieces left by spacecraft is estimated to be in the trillions. 12 Human-made space debris, the focus of this paper, poses the primary risk to human activities. 13 Natural debris usually escapes Earth's orbits where spacecraft and satellites are commonly found. 14 Human-made debris, on the other hand, tends to remain in Earth's orbits during its lifetime. 15 Human-made space debris also confines itself to the orbits most needed by spacecraft and satellites, clogging them much quicker than natural debris. 16

o        Bird, Robert C. “Procedural Challenges to Environmental Regulation of Space Debris”, 40 Am. Bus. L.J. 635, 637-38, Spring 2003

 

-           “The primary injury-related problem caused by space debris is the risk of damage from collision with spacecraft or astronauts. 34 What makes these particles extraordinarily dangerous is their extremely high speed, which ranges from 11,000 to 35,000 kilometers per hour. 35 Thus, any collision with a space debris particle can occur with incredible force. A collision with a fragment measuring a tenth of an inch could do more damage than a bowling ball flying at sixty miles per hour. 36 Examples abound of spacecraft colliding with space debris. 37 In 1983, a paint chip struck the space shuttle Challenger. 38 The 0.2 mm fragment struck a window, requiring replacement at a cost of $ 50,000. 39 In 1996, a fragment from a rocket launched ten years earlier collided with a French spy satellite and damaged its stabilization bar. 40 In 1997, a Japanese climate observation satellite was disabled for an unknown reason, but space debris is credited as the likely culprit. 41 In 1998, orbital debris destroyed a spent portion of a U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile during a test flight over the Marshall Islands. 42

o        Bird, Robert C. “Procedural Challenges to Environmental Regulation of Space Debris”, 40 Am. Bus. L.J. 635, 640-41, Spring 2003

 

-           “One source projects that within the next few years approximately 2,000 satellites will be orbiting the earth for various commercial, military, and scientific purposes. 53

o        Bird, Robert C. “Procedural Challenges to Environmental Regulation of Space Debris”, 40 Am. Bus. L.J. 635, 642, Spring 2003

 

-           “The primary inter-governmental organization dedicated to resolving issues involving space debris is the long-standing Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). 66 … Today, COPUOS holds annual meetings on outer space issues and recommends a number of legal and scientific solutions to the space debris problem. 67…”

o        Bird, Robert C. “Procedural Challenges to Environmental Regulation of Space Debris”, 40 Am. Bus. L.J. 635, 644, Spring 2003

 

-           “The striking impact and near-impact examples, however, cannot adequately address the current danger estimates to operational spacecraft. The spacefaring nations must approach danger estimates through a statistical analysis of the probability of impact in each discrete orbit. 69 NASA and other space organizations (such as the European Space Agency) cannot determine the potential threat to future spacecraft and other space activities without statistical analysis.”

o        Limperis, Peter T. “Orbital Debris and the Spacefaring Nations: International Law Methods for Prevention and Reduction of Debris, and Liability Regimes for Damage Caused by Debris.” 15 Ariz. J. Int’l & Comp. Law 319, 325, Winter 1998

 

-           “If collisions caused only minor damage to operational payloads, intensive scientific study and legal analysis would be unwarranted. A brief discussion of the physical elements involved in such impacts, however, illustrates that orbital collisions are highly energetic and can destroy operational spacecraft or even kill unlucky astronauts. 84 There are several factors which determine the extent and type of damage colliding debris inflicts on operational spacecraft. The damage is a function of (1) the size and velocity of the debris; 85 (2) the nature of the spacecraft's construction; 86 (3) the angle at which the orbital debris impacts the spacecraft; and (3) the particular section of the spacecraft impacted. 87

o        Limperis, Peter T. “Orbital Debris and the Spacefaring Nations: International Law Methods for Prevention and Reduction of Debris, and Liability Regimes for Damage Caused by Debris.” 15 Ariz. J. Int’l & Comp. Law 319, 327, Winter 1998

 

-           “The result of some collisions is the catastrophic failure of the spacecraft. The break-up ratio estimates when a complete breakup of the spacecraft occurs: "If the ratio of the impactor's relative kinetic energy to the mass of the object with which it collides is greater than about 40J/g [breakup will occur]." 93 In LEO, a piece of debris that is only 0.1% of a spacecraft's mass could break up the spacecraft. 94 Even if impacting debris does not break up the operational spacecraft, the debris can still cause significant damage. These other types of damage include continual small debris impacts, which slowly degrade the craft surfaces and components. 95

o        Limperis, Peter T. “Orbital Debris and the Spacefaring Nations: International Law Methods for Prevention and Reduction of Debris, and Liability Regimes for Damage Caused by Debris.” 15 Ariz. J. Int’l & Comp. Law 319, 328, Winter 1998

 

-           Three treaties which offer some assistance to the debris problem include: (1) the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies [hereinafter The Outer Space Treaty]; 96 (2) the Convention on the International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects [hereinafter The Liability Convention]; 97 and (3) the Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space [hereinafter The Registration Convention]. 98 The U.N. Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space [hereinafter the Committee] 99 constructed these international laws. 100

o        Limperis, Peter T. “Orbital Debris and the Spacefaring Nations: International Law Methods for Prevention and Reduction of Debris, and Liability Regimes for Damage Caused by Debris.” 15 Ariz. J. Int’l & Comp. Law 319, 328, Winter 1998

o         

 

  1. War in Space

 

-           “To date, there has not been a single reported case of force used in outer space by one nation against another. 68 Nonetheless, given the increasing global reliance on space systems, and increasing militarization of space, its weaponization and evolution into a distinct theater of military operations seems likely.”

o        Ramey, Major Robert A. “Armed Conflict on the Final Frontier: The Law of War in Space”, 48 A.F. L. Rev. 1, 18, 2000

 

-           “The most significant military effect of nuclear blasts in space relates to the creation of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) in near-earth space where the outer space vacuum contacts the atmosphere. 75 An EMP is created when "a cascade of gamma rays from any nuclear explosion in space collides with the upper atmosphere." 76 As these gamma rays race nearly instantaneously downward toward the top of earth's atmosphere, resultant charge imbalances create an electrical current that peaks 100 times faster than lightning, and is largely unrelated to the size of the detonation for any yield over a few hundred kilotons. 77 Similar to a lightning strike, the EMP lasts only for a millionth of a second but holds potential for devastation of sensitive circuitry. Unshielded electronics within several hundred miles of the epicenter may be disabled as every unshielded element in its path acts as a conductor. The higher the burst, the larger the area affected in the air and land beneath. A burst at a height of 300 miles (483 km) would affect the entire continental U.S. 78 "Poorly protected satellites and solar power systems in orbit are particularly vulnerable, because risk radii extend hundreds (sometimes thousands) of miles farther in space than in absorbent air." 79

o        Ramey, Major Robert A. “Armed Conflict on the Final Frontier: The Law of War in Space”, 48 A.F. L. Rev. 1, 20, 2000

 

-           “Kinetic energy weapons, of which hypervelocity weapons are a subtype, are historically the most common forms of space weaponry. As suggested above, given the tremendous speeds at which objects travel in orbit, on the order of 4.7 miles per second in low-earth orbit, just about anything properly aimed could become a weapon even without the use of an explosive warhead. This is true because such an object's speed, including those of very small masses, gives it tremendous kinetic energy for impact. 88

o        Ramey, Major Robert A. “Armed Conflict on the Final Frontier: The Law of War in Space”, 48 A.F. L. Rev. 1, 22, 2000

 

-           At present, the U.S. is developing space, air, and ground-based lasers for possible use as weapons against enemy missiles and satellites. One of the two principal U.S. ground-based lasers is the Mid-Infrared Advanced Chemical Laser (MIRACL). 98 As the name suggests, the laser beam is generated by chemical reactions, produced by deuterium fluoride, resulting in a focused beam that is fourteen cm square. 99

o        Ramey, Major Robert A. “Armed Conflict on the Final Frontier: The Law of War in Space”, 48 A.F. L. Rev. 1, 24, 2000

 

-           “These principles, recognized in subsequent treaty law, limit the means and methods available to belligerents for conducting armed conflicts, and thus each demands restraint of the belligerent State. 144 Because there are no treaties establishing specific jus in bello principles for space combat, these customary principles provide the most authoritative source, subject to the specific principles of space law discussed in Chapters Four and Five, on which the analysis of a jus in bello for space must proceed.”

o        Ramey, Major Robert A. “Armed Conflict on the Final Frontier: The Law of War in Space”, 48 A.F. L. Rev. 1, 35, 2000

 

-           “Given its recent origin, and the fact that it is predominantly driven by technological advances in the exploration and use of space, space law is a discipline in transition--additional norms continue to emerge as space technology advances. 'Space law' is defined as that comprising "all international and national legal rules and principles which govern the exploration and use of outer space by States, international organizations, private persons and companies." 283 Significantly, this broad definition reflects the rise of national legislation governing outer space activity, as well as of non-State actors in the increasingly commercialized and privatized space industry.”

o        Ramey, Major Robert A. “Armed Conflict on the Final Frontier: The Law of War in Space”, 48 A.F. L. Rev. 1, 64, 2000

 

-           “Thus, while it is a recent phenomenon, space law today is a firmly established discipline resting essentially on five multilateral treaties.”

o        Ramey, Major Robert A. “Armed Conflict on the Final Frontier: The Law of War in Space”, 48 A.F. L. Rev. 1, 65, 2000

 

-           “It is difficult to overstate the preeminent place in space law enjoyed by the first international treaty governing outer space, commonly known as the Outer Space Treaty. 316 Drawn principally from three previous United Nations General Assembly (U.N.G.A.) Resolutions, 317 the Outer Space Treaty is termed everything from "an ideological charter for the space age" 318 to the "Magna Carta of outer space law." 319 Of the five multilateral treaties dealing specifically with outer space activities, it is the most important "by far." 320 As a result, it is the legal source of first resort for the analysis of any space law topic. the Outer Space Treaty specifies that "Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means." 322 Of the many activities this provision clearly prohibits, it has generated some debate relating to its scope. For example, commentators are divided over its application to private, non-governmental claims of ownership  [*75]  over celestial bodies. 323 Increasing private investment in space makes this a live issue that military users of space must understand.”

o        Ramey, Major Robert A. “Armed Conflict on the Final Frontier: The Law of War in Space”, 48 A.F. L. Rev. 1, 74, 2000

 

 

  1. Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects

 

-           “Following the drafting and entry into force of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which left uncertain the scope of the term "damage," COPUOS resumed its deliberations on what was to become the Convention on International Liability Caused by Space Objects. 38 The General Assembly adopted resolutions encouraging action by COPUOS annually from 1967 through 1971. 39The Liability for Damages Convention contains a set of rules that supplements the provisions of the 1967 treaty. Its coverage is broad since it "makes no distinction between civil and military space objects and applies equally to each."

o        Christol, Carl Q. “International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects.” 74 A.J.I.L. 346, 355-56, 1980.

 

-           “Article VII [of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967] discusses the liability of one State, party to the treaty, to another State, also party to the treaty, for damage caused by an object: Each State Party to the Treaty that launches or procures the launching of an object into outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies and each State Party from whose territory or facility an object is launched, is internationally liable for damage to another State Party to the Treaty or to its natural or juridical persons by such object or its component parts on the Earth, in air space or in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies. 103

o        Limperis, Peter T. “Orbital Debris and the Spacefaring Nations: International Law Methods for Prevention and Reduction of Debris, and Liability Regimes for Damage Caused by Debris.” 15 Ariz. J. Int’l & Comp. Law 319, 329, Winter 1998

 

-           “Article VII suffers from a more fundamental flaw: it does not clearly define an "object." 108 Is an "object" anything launched into space by humans which is still functional? What if a fairly obtuse State Party to the Treaty launched a rock into orbit; would it be liable for damage to another State caused by this object? Article VII also does not indicate what recourse a participating State has if the damaging debris is unidentifiable. 109

o        Limperis, Peter T. “Orbital Debris and the Spacefaring Nations: International Law Methods for Prevention and Reduction of Debris, and Liability Regimes for Damage Caused by Debris.” 15 Ariz. J. Int’l & Comp. Law 319, 330, Winter 1998

 

-           “On September 1, 1972, approximately five years after the signing of the Outer Space Treaty, the Committee enacted the Liability Convention. 112 In part, the Convention states: [states are liable for damage] caused elsewhere than on the surface of the Earth to a space object of one launching State or to persons or property on board such a space object of another launching state . . . only if the damage is due to its fault [emphasis added] or the fault of persons for whom it is responsible. 113 Such a fault-based liability scheme for orbital impacts creates several legal and technical problems. The most obvious of these problems is that the current tracking abilities of the SSN and the SSS cannot adequately identify many types of debris.”

o        Limperis, Peter T. “Orbital Debris and the Spacefaring Nations: International Law Methods for Prevention and Reduction of Debris, and Liability Regimes for Damage Caused by Debris.” 15 Ariz. J. Int’l & Comp. Law 319, 330-31, Winter 1998

 

  1. Space Tourism

 

-           “In early October 2004, SpaceShipOne was successfully "launched" from its mother plane White Knight and went on to complete its second journey within the space of a week to an altitude of more than one hundred kilometers and back. As a result, Mojave Aerospace Ventures, a company established by the vehicle's designer Burt Rutan and financier Paul Allen, claimed the ten million dollar Ansari X Prize.”

o        Freeland, Steven. “Up, Up and… Back: The Emergence of Space Tourism and Its Impact on the International Law of Outer Space.” 6 Chi. J. Int’l L. 1, 1, Summer 2005

 

-           “There are five main multilateral treaties that have been finalised through the auspices of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space ("UNCOPUOS"), the principal international body involved in the development of international space law. 10 These are: (i) Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and other Celestial Bodies ("Outer Space Treaty"); 11 (ii) Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space ("Rescue Agreement"); 12 (iii) Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects ("Liability Convention"); 13 (iv) Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space ("Registration Agreement"); 14 and (v) Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and other Celestial Bodies ("Moon Agreement"). 15 These five treaties deal with various issues relating to outer space. However, virtually all of them were formulated in the "Cold War" era when only a relatively small number of countries had space-faring capability.”

o        Freeland, Steven. “Up, Up and… Back: The Emergence of Space Tourism and Its Impact on the International Law of Outer Space.” 6 Chi. J. Int’l L. 1, 4, Summer 2005

 

-           “It is clear from the terms of these treaties that, at the time they were finalised, it had not been anticipated that humankind would engage in commercial space tourism activities and, as a result, they do not deal in any specific manner with such activities.”

o        Freeland, Steven. “Up, Up and… Back: The Emergence of Space Tourism and Its Impact on the International Law of Outer Space.” 6 Chi. J. Int’l L. 1, 4-5, Summer 2005

 

-           In essence, outer space is "free" for use -- tourist activities that take place in outer space are not subject to prior consent on the part of any sovereign State. Of course, any space tourist activities requiring a launch from earth (or an air launch such as with SpaceShipOne) and a return to earth will also involve a "use" of air space. In this respect, the law of air space may be relevant to the legal position.”

o        Freeland, Steven. “Up, Up and… Back: The Emergence of Space Tourism and Its Impact on the International Law of Outer Space.” 6 Chi. J. Int’l L. 1, 7, Summer 2005

 

-           “There is, as observed above, no reference to space "tourists" in the five multilateral space treaties specifically relating to outer space. Nor was the issue directly in the minds of the United Nations General Assembly when it adopted many of those resolutions that deal with space activities. 35 The existing corpus of international space law does, however, contemplate space travel by "astronauts" and "personnel of a spacecraft." The Outer Space Treaty does not provide a definition of an astronaut but stipulates that they are to be regarded as "envoys of mankind."… Given the particular status accorded to an astronaut -- an envoy of mankind -- it is unclear whether a commercial space tourist would fall within this classification.”

o        Freeland, Steven. “Up, Up and… Back: The Emergence of Space Tourism and Its Impact on the International Law of Outer Space.” 6 Chi. J. Int’l L. 1, 10, Summer 2005

 

-           “After serious negotiations and compromises, President Bush signed the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004 173 (Space Launch Act) into law on December 23, 2004. 174… The Space Launch Act enacted some major protections for space tourism businesses. Most importantly, the industry won its "fly at your own risk" clause in 49 U.S.C.A. 70105(b)(5) which allows a licensed party to carry space flight participants only if they "inform[] the space flight participant in writing about the risks of the launch and reentry, including the safety record of the launch or reentry vehicle type," and that the United States government has not certified the vehicle as safe. 179 After being fully informed, the participant must also give written consent. 180 This appears to give space tourism businesses a great deal of freedom.”

o        Parsons, Catherine E. “Space Tourism: Regulating Passage to the Happiest Place Off Earth.” 9 Chap. L. Rev. 493, 513, Spring 2006

 

-           49 U.S.C.A. 70105(c) was the major compromise. Favorable to the industry, 49 U.S.C.A. 70105(c)(2) allows only minimal regulations on space tourism vehicles. This section allows only regulations that prohibit design features that have resulted in a serious or fatal injury, or that may contribute to events that pose a high risk of causing a serious or fatal injury. 186 In 2012, however, pursuant to 49 U.S.C.A. 70105(c)(3), full regulatory control will pass to the FAA. 187 Assuming the first commercial space flights launch on schedule, the FAA will have the power to regulate all aspects of the space tourism industry after only five years of operation with actual space tourists.”

o        Parsons, Catherine E. “Space Tourism: Regulating Passage to the Happiest Place Off Earth.” 9 Chap. L. Rev. 493, 514, Spring 2006

 

-           On December 29, 2005, the FAA released its proposed regulations for public review as mandated under the Space Launch Act. 223 While the FAA interprets the Space Launch Act to mean that "the FAA has to wait for harm to occur or almost occur before it can impose restrictions, even against foreseeable harm," 224 it has interpreted its power to regulate crew training and qualifications broadly. 225 The FAA already has certain design requirements within its proposed rules, such as defined environmental control, life support systems, and physical restraints for persons and objects. 226 The FAA claims it is making these standards as part of its crew requirements because environmental controls are important for the crew to function efficiently, and space flight participants need to be restrained to keep them "from interfering with flight crew activities.”

o        Parsons, Catherine E. “Space Tourism: Regulating Passage to the Happiest Place Off Earth.” 9 Chap. L. Rev. 493, 519-20, Spring 2006

 

 

Law Review Articles:

 

Sucharitkul, Sompong. “Commercial and Labor Law, Liability and Responsibility of the State of Registration or the Flag State in Respect of Sea-Going Vessels, Aircraft and Spacecraft Registered by National Registration Authorities,” 54 Am. J. Comp. L. 409, Fall 2006.

 

Bird, Robert C. “Procedural Challenges to Environmental Regulation of Space Debris”, 40 Am. Bus. L.J. 635, Spring 2003

 

Ramey, Major Robert A. “Armed Conflict on the Final Frontier: The Law of War in Space”, 48 A.F. L. Rev. 1, 2000

 

Manzione, Lara L. “Multinational Investment in the Space Station: An Outer Space Model for International Cooperation?” 18 Am. U. Int’l L. Rev. 507, 2002

 

Christol, Carl Q. “International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects.” 74 A.J.I.L. 346, 1980.

 

Limperis, Peter T. “Orbital Debris and the Spacefaring Nations: International Law Methods for Prevention and Reduction of Debris, and Liability Regimes for Damage Caused by Debris.” 15 Ariz. J. Int’l & Comp. Law 319, Winter 1998

 

Malagar, Leo B. and Marlo Apalisok Magdoza-Malagar. “International Law of Outer Space and the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights.” 17 B.U. Int’l L.J. 311, Fall 1999

 

Porras, Daniel A. “The Common Heritage of Outer Space: Equal Benefits for Most of Mankind.” 37 Cal. W. Int’l L.J. 143, Fall 2006

 

Picker, Colin B. “A View from 40,000 Feet: International Law and the Invisible Hand of Technology” 23 Cardozo L. Rev. 149, November 2001

 

Ernest, Van C. “Third Party Liability of the Private Space Industry: To Pay What No One Has Paid Before”, 41 Case W. Res. 503, 1991

 

Parsons, Catherine E. “Space Tourism: Regulating Passage to the Happiest Place Off Earth.” 9 Chap. L. Rev. 493, Spring 2006

 

Freeland, Steven. “Up, Up and… Back: The Emergence of Space Tourism and Its Impact on the International Law of Outer Space.” 6 Chi. J. Int’l L. 1, Summer 2005

 

Sattler, Rosanna. “Transporting a Legal System for Property Rights: From the Earth to the Stars.” 6 Chi. J. Int’l L. 23, Summer 2005

 

Reynolds, Glenn Harlan. “International Space Law in Transformation: Some Observations.” 6 Chi. J. Int’l L. 69, Summer 2005

 

Hertzfeld, Henry R. and Frans G. von der Dunk. “Bringing Space Law into the Commercial World: Property Right without Sovereignty.” 6 Chi. J. Int’l L. 81, Summer 2005

 

Apking, April Greene. “The Rush to Develop Space: The Role of Spacefaring Nations in Forging Environmental Standards for the Use of Celestial Bodies for Governmental and Private Interests.” 16 Colo J. Int’l Envtl. L. & Pol’y 429, Spring 2005