European Journal of Law Reform

Article

Space Debris Remediation, Its Regulation and the Role of Europe

Keywords space debris, remediation, European Union, European Space Agency, International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities
Authors Jan Wouters, Philip De Man en Rik Hansen
Author's information

Jan Wouters
Jean Monnet Chair ad personam EU and Global Governance, Full Professor of International Law and International Organizations and Director of the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies and Institute for International Law, University of Leuven.

Philip De Man
Project Manager, Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, University of Leuven.

Rik Hansen
Doctoral Researcher at the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies and the Institute for International Law of the University of Leuven.
  • Abstract

      Ever since the launch of the first space object, discarded bits and pieces ranging from disused payloads and spent upper stages to single bolts and tiny flakes of paint have been cluttering outer space, making valuable and widely used orbits and trajectories to and from earth increasingly unsafe for future use. The response of the international community to this immediate threat to the sustainable use of outer space has been slow and haphazard and remains limited to non-binding guidelines and technical recommendations for space debris mitigation. Recent events such as the 2007 Chinese ASAT test and the 2009 collision between an active American and an in-operational Russian communications satellite demonstrate that more needs to be done in order to develop a strong international regime on active debris remediation. Given the complexities of these issues and the lengthy nature of international negotiations, one should not expect a comprehensive legal regime for space debris mitigation and remediation to materialize any time soon. As it is in the own interest of its users to preserve outer space for future exploration and use, the regulation of debris mitigation by space agencies may well prove a valuable alternative as a starting point for binding remediation rules. Since new international initiatives in this respect are lacking, the present article looks at the various space actors in Europe and at the role some of them may play in developing global rules of space debris remediation.

Please sign in to access the article



Did you receive an activation code but no access yet? Please activate your code here.

Forgot your password? Request new password.

Purchase access

You can purchase online access to this article. You will receive 24 hrs access @ € 17,50 (excl. VAT).

24 hrs access € 17,50 (excl. VAT)

Activate your code

If you have an access code, please activate it here.