Controversial Features of International Space Law

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT.

The aim of the present study is to examine and evaluate the inter-related relationship between the U.S. government and aerospace industry, the international law that governs space, and the epistemic culture of space law. The paper generates insights about the development of commercial space activities, the threat to the world's climate posed by private space tourism, the way that the international law of outer space should regulate future space tourism activities, and the territorial nature of air space.

JEL Classification: K12, K23, K33

Keywords: international space law, travel, commerce, tourism

1. Introduction

There have been few comprehensive assessments of what research has learned about the regulation of space tourism by the EU, the relationship between international law and arms control in space, the transformations within and in the operation of space law, and the societal impact of deep exploration of the universe. The purpose of this paper is to gain a deeper understanding of the nexus between the decline of space law, the exploration and use of outer space, the normative and behavioral patterns space activities might generate, and the societal dimension of space activities. The theory that I shall seek to elaborate here puts considerable emphasis on the increase in the development of suborbital space travel, the advent of commercial space tourism, legal requirements relating to the environmental protection of outer space, and Europe's role and position in the field of space tourism. In this paper I am particularly interested in exploring the competence of the EU in the field of space activities, the development of technology capable of transporting large numbers of paying passengers into outer space on a commercial basis, the commercialization of outer space, and the disjunction of space law from international law. This study is grounded in the considerable body of scholarship examining the threat of climate change from space launches, the legal status of space tourists, the creation of adequate and universal domestic space legislation across all space-faring countries, and the current international legal framework for the regulation of outer space.

2. The Exploration and Use of Outer Space

Brittingham argues that the modern body of space law is vague on the concept of private appropriation of resources in outer space. The Outer Space Treaty speaks to how space resources are to be handled: no nation can be barred from exploring space. Any use of space should not be to the detriment of any nations and space should be within the scope or jurisdiction of the entire human race. Brittingham notes that the Outer Space Treaty does not expressly forbid nongovernmental appropriation. Space has vast amounts of area that is impractical for any one nation to claim. Resources of the deep sea and outer space are the common heritage of mankind. The technology and knowledge derived from the exploration of space are the province of all mankind only in that they add to our history and knowledge as a species. The developing nations favor an interpretation that makes the common heritage an equitable distribution not based on contribution or effort.1

Gabrynowicz puts it that United States national space law tends to follow the development of space technology2 and geopolitical events. Both the nation's space activities and the law that authorizes them have evolved as required by politics and technology (the civil-military relationship has ebbed and flowed over the years). Satellite communications have spawned a dynamic and complex body of law at the national and international level, launches involve expensive technology, high-powered explosives, and rangesafety requirements (all launch facilities are government built, funded, maintained, and operated).

It therefore seems reasonable to suggest that the U.S. private sector must rely on government facilities to provide its launch services and products. …