International Institute of Space Law

About this journal  

Subscribe to the email alerts for this journal here to receive notifications when a new issue is at your disposal.

Issue 2, 2021 Expand all abstracts

    This article is to study to what extent the liability and responsibility regime developed under the UN space treaties could reasonably address private activities of the Moon and Mars using a hypothetical case and state practice of the UN registration of satellites deployed from the International Space Station. The survey shows that neither the liability regime nor the unique international responsibility regime would be sufficient to address “newspace” activities, and it is concluded that the nationality for space object is needed for the orderly exploitation of the Moon and Mars, as it is not necessarily possible to identify the nationality of a private person who is responsible for a business activity due to the inevitably complicated investment and operation schemes and persons of various nationalities staying in one self-contained space station or facility.

Setsuko Aoki
Professor of Law, Keio University Law School.

Standardization as an Instrument of Cooperation: A Silver Lining for Harvesting Common Benefits on the Way Back to the Moon?

Keywords space law, standards, standardization, regulation, cooperation, space exploration
Authors Jenni Tapio and Alexander Soucek
AbstractAuthor's information

    Humankind’s return to the Moon has begun, and this time it will be a journey that builds upon six decades of spaceflight experience. Technical standards are capturing the essence of this experience and fill a gap left by space law. They provide for elaborated indications of what is to be regarded as diligent or negligent. Far from being law, they become benchmarks for lawfulness. However, their nature, objectives and consequences are not uniform, and whether or not they are adequate tools to precede or even substitute new legal norms, remains to be decided. Starting from the premise that standardization has the inherent potential to foster international space cooperation, this paper explores whether it may also be a way to enhance participation and benefits sharing in the new age of exploration. Can standards really open a level playing field that is so costly, complex and exclusive? Or are they, on the opposite, a means to raise the barrier such that only few can join the limited circle of lunar returners?

Jenni Tapio
Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland.

Alexander Soucek
European Space Agency (ESA).

The Registration of Lunar Activities: Recommendations from the Registration Project

Keywords international space law, notification of space activities, registration of space objects, lunar governance
Authors Mark J. Sundahl and Antonino Salmeri
AbstractAuthor's information

    The obligation to share information regarding space activities and to register space objects on a public registry is a fundamental aspect of the law of outer space. As we enter a new era of space exploration focused on the use of celestial bodies, existing mechanisms under international space law – i.e. Article VIII OST, Resolution 1721 B (XVI) and the Registration Convention - need updating. These mechanisms were designed for the registration of space “objects” in Earth orbit, not space activities on celestial bodies, and did not consider the possibility of prospective submissions.
    The Registration Project was launched in 2021 as a joint venture between the Moon Village Association and the Global Space Law Center to discuss these very issues in an international group comprised of twenty-five experts in space law, business, engineering, and policy. The authors served as co-chairs of the Project, and wrote this paper to present its recommendations for improving existing law and practice in both the near and long-term, including a proposed template providing guidance for the submission of information regarding lunar activities.

Mark J. Sundahl
Cleveland State University, United States.

Antonino Salmeri
University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg.

Governance of Space Resources: Efforts to Achieve an International Regime for Sustainable Space Resource Activities

Keywords Space Resources, Global Governance, International Regimes, Space Law, Space Sustainability
Authors Suyan Cristina Malhadas and Fernando Cardozo Fernandes Rei
AbstractAuthor's information

    The working paper addresses global governance of space resources and its actions to fill regulatory gaps. It analyzes if the current governance scenario is designing a new international regime, which would go beyond a strictly legal regime, with specific principles, norms, rules and decision-making procedures to promote coordination and cooperation between all actors interested in the exploitation of space resources, and more adequately deal with present and future challenges. For this purpose, the research approaches space law and policy matters from the Theory of International Regimes’ perspective, accessing international, governmental and multi-stakeholder initiatives. The paper identifies that there is a general recognition of principles of space law and other congruences that could potentially lead to an international regime to govern space resources exploitation. Such a regime could establish permanent institutions based on converging expectations and contribute to the long-term sustainability of those activities.

Suyan Cristina Malhadas
Catholic University of Santos/Brazil.

Fernando Cardozo Fernandes Rei
Catholic University of Santos/Brazil.

    As accessing and developing outer space resources becomes more feasible, determining the status of those resources under international law and norms becomes more important. The oldest and most widely accepted binding international treaty is the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 (OST). The most recent proposed norms are in the Artemis Accords (Accords), an inter-agency agreement adopted by the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and its partners as part of the Artemis Moon program. This paper concludes that Article II of the OST creates a de jure common-pool resource of outer space and that all subsequent agreements and activities are subject to it. It further concludes that any act of exclusion, even for “safety zones”, violates Article II and defeats the common-pool resource. It further concludes that sharing access to resources will mitigate the exclusion, maintain the common-pool resource of outer space, and allow resource development activities, including the removal of materials in place (in situ). Finally, it will consider whether the Moon Treaty, with a possible implementation agreement, can enhance the development of outer space resources, including the building of permanent settlements.

Dennis O’Brien
President, The Space Treaty Institute, Ukiah, CA/USA.

    One of the projects shooting for the Moon attracting the most attention no doubt concerns the Artemis project. Hereby, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) plans to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon, and has meanwhile agreed with other countries on the Artemis Accords with regard to the activities that are to be undertaken on the Moon. While the space agencies assure that the Accords are perfectly in compliance with current international (space) law, some criticism has been levelled against those plans and the Accords disputing that straightforward claim. To assess the validity of such concerns, the paper thus analyses and scrutinizes the thirteen sections of the Accords from the perspective of international law, and in particular its cornerstone principle on international cooperation.

Frans G. von der Dunk
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, College of Law, Space, Cyber and Telecommunications Law Program.

    Extraction and utilization of lunar resources are most interesting today for specialists of different occupations in the space sphere. Even though people have not yet started actual activity on the Moon, and humanity does not know how will realize this activity in practice, different aspects of the international legal regime of this activity are of considerable interest for space lawyers. One of such questions is the safety of space activities on the Moon, where establishing safety zones is essential too.
    The presented article will be devoted to the complex international and national legal research of safety zones. It will help single out characteristics and principles of enacting safety zones on the Moon.

Irina Chernykh
Department of International Law, RUDN University.

Aslan Abashidze
Department of International Law, RUDN University.