Studies in International Space Law

Studies in International Space Law

Studies in International Space Law

Studies in International Space Law


This book consists of a collection of studies in international space law by a leading authority in international law, air law, and space law. Those that have been previously published are thoroughly revised and updated. Publication coincides with the thirtieth anniversary of the first ever multilateral treaty on outer space, which established an agreed international legal framework for the exploration and use of outer space. The books twenty-six articles examine the major developments and issues of the law governing human activities in space, ranging from television broadcasts, the regulation of space junk, and the governance of State activities on the moon to the legal status of astronauts, the nationality of spacecraft, and arms control. Articles also examine the effect and influence of UN Treaties in this area. The author has, in his examination of this exciting branch of the law, drawn from it valuable lessons for the future development of international law in general.


Like space flights, of which it is but an inevitable concomitant, space law has come into existence only in the second half of the twentieth century. When the subject was first discussed, there were some who greeted it with considerable scepticism or even derision. At the other extreme, there were also many who entertained fanciful expectations that in space there would soon be an entirely new heavenly order, free from all terrestrial strife and governed by a matching celestial law.

Today space is part of our daily life. We take for granted such things as satellite weather pictures, crackle-free transoceanic telephone conversations, satellite television with live broadcasts from the other side of the earth and even from outer space, images of the edge of the visible universe courtesy of the Hubble space telescope, global positioning navigation devices not only for ships and aircraft, but also for motor vehicles and intrepid explorers. From a more specialized angle, space has opened entirely new doors for all kinds of commercial, industrial, and scientific enterprises, ranging from agriculture, astronomy, through communications, environmental protection, fishery, the prospecting for and conservation of natural resources, medical and pharmaceutical research, as well as diverse manufacturing processes relying on a gravity-free environment, to telecommunications, and the management of zoological nature reserves, just to mention some. At the same time, while rocketry, which is at the heart of space flights, has completely revolutionized military strategy, observation from space has also brought about a vital breakthrough in the disarmament process by providing an effective means of verification.

In anticipation, as well as in the wake, of these technological advances, an appreciable body of space law has meanwhile grown apace. If one may say so, it is a law of a very down-to-earth nature on the whole. The present collection of studies, written over a period of some 40 years starting from the very beginning of the space age, covers a good part of the major developments in international space law during this period.

Needless to say, space law is definitely not a law governing, or intended to govern, our relations with extraterrestrial beings, notwithstanding all the efforts being made to search for extraterrestrial life and to contact extraterrestrial intelligence. Nor is it an autonomous system of law operating independently in outer space, unattached to any earthly authority or political order.

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