International Institute of Space Law

Article

The Rules of Preventing Collisions in Outer Space

Authors Huxiao Yang en Chang Dai
Author's information

Huxiao Yang
Civil Aviation University of China (author).

Chang Dai
Leiden University (co-author).
  • Abstract

      Recently, SpaceX announced that it would send passengers to the moon in 2018. With the new round of space exploration boom, national research institutions, commercial enterprises are committed to the study of more advanced and economical spacecraft to explore and develop outer space. As a result, more spacecraft will be launched into space. Therefore, it is necessary to establish a system of traffic rules for navigation in outer space.
      Although different modes of transport follow different traffic rules, however, many of these traffic rules are similar. The rules of preventing collisions in outer space should also be similar to other rules of preventing collisions in basic principles and measures to preventing collisions. This is not only the consideration of the efficiency of making rules, but to consider the coordination of navigation in outer space and air navigation, because the navigation in outer space and air navigation are not two independent concepts. As a representative of a type of spacecraft designed for space travel, SpaceShipTwo, the spacecraft of Virgin Galactic, has both the characteristics of spacecraft and aircraft. This type of aircraft is similar to a seaplane, which could both navigation in water and air. While a seaplane is navigating in water, it follows the rules of water navigation, such as the 2005 COLREGS, while this seaplane navigating in the air, it follows the rules of air navigation.
      It seems to increase the burden of the pilot that demand a seaplane to follow different rules of preventing collisions in the water or the air. However, Because of the similar basic principles and measures to preventing collisions in both rules of water navigation and air navigation, this worry seems to be misplaced.
      This paper will first address the commonality in all modes of traffic rules. Especially the basic principles and measures to preventing a collision. It will list the essential principles and measures in air navigation, and study whether these principles and measures can be applied to air navigation. Finally, the paper will address the problems may be involved in the air traffic management while spacecraft are navigating in the air.

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