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International Institute of Space Law

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We are temporarily suspending the printing of journal issues, due to the measures taken to combat the Coronavirus (COVID-19). When delivery becomes available again, we will resume the printing and sending of the journal issues previously missed. All articles of each new journal issue will be made available digitally via this online journal platform. In addition, we will include a link to the PDF of the full issue. Subscribe to the email alerts for this journal here to receive notifications when a new issue is at your disposal.

Issue 5, 2018 Expand all abstracts

    Cyber security opens a new dimension in the discussion on human activities in outer space. The part of the law pertaining to cyberspace which is of interest for this paper is the regulation related to cyber activities in outer space.
    Space activities are not immune from malicious cyber activities as transmission signals are vulnerable to cyber access. The range of threats is very wide and can include the loss of control, the disruption of services and the modification or loss of data. While it is clear that the malicious uses of cyberspace constitute a large spectrum of threats for space operations, the legal rules applicable to cyber operations have still to be determined.
    This paper will first tackle definitional matters in order to describe the technical nature of cyberspace and to address the question on how cyber law may touch upon outer space activities. Then, questions of the applicability of international law and space law to cyber activities as well as measures to address the consequences of cyber threats to the space infrastructure will be addressed.


Rada Popova
Teaching and Research Fellow and PhD candidate at the Institute of Air Law, Space Law and Cyber Law (University of Cologne); (Mag. iur) Law Master’s Degree (University of Vienna); Researcher at the 2017 Centre for Studies and Research (Hague Academy of International Law). Institute of Air Law, Space Law and Cyber Law, University of Cologne, Germany, rada.popova@uni-koeln.de.

    Despite the increasing influence of cyber activities on our everyday lives, researchers encounter difficulties in understanding this subject matter and in legally qualifying these activities and their effects. Current discussions tend to concentrate on distinct aspects, which lead to a fragmented, rather than a holistic understanding of the legal aspects of cyber activities. This paper approaches the legal dimension of cyber activities from a more general direction and searches for elements and legal principles that may be found in international law, including space law, and can apply to cyber activities.


Stefan A. Kaiser
LLM (McGill). Wassenberg, Germany, stefanakaiser@aol.com

    This article studies five category of malicious cyber activities against space assets in order to assess to what extent the existing international telecommunications law and space law address such activities and identify which rules should be pursued to effectively solve them. Five category of such activities include jamming, hijacking, hacking, spoofing, and robbing the control of telemetry, tracking and control (TT&C) of a satellite (a kind of anti-satellite (ASAT)). Actual incidents are selected for analysis. Those are: (i) jamming: Iranian deliberate harmful interference to the Eutelsat satellites solved in the ITU; (ii) hijacking: a terrorist organization, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) hijacking US Intelsat-12 satellite solved by diplomatic negotiation between the Sri Lankan and US Governments using international telecommunications law developed by the ITU and individual national laws; (iii) hacking: alleged Chinese hacking of US NOAA’s information systems; (iv) spoofing: Iranian spoofing of the GPS signals to guide a US/CIA’s RQ-170 UAV into the Iranian territory; and (v) robbing the control of TT&C: alleged Chinese taking control of US remote sensing satellites including Landsat-7 and Terra AM-1. Concluding remarks include: 1) international telecommunications law developed in the ITU can adequately address harmful interference or hijacking as a result of malicious cyber activity as long as that is conducted by a non-State actor; 2) efforts have started in the ITU to strengthen its fact-finding ability in line with the TCBM measures taken in space activities. This orientation may be remembered as a beginning of the new stage that international space law and international telecommunications law would be merged into one field of law: 3) It remains unclear about the implications of an intangible damage occurred to a satellite when its TT&C is robbed of as a result of malicious cyber activity, while it is clear that such an action constitute the violation of the principles of respect for state sovereignty, national jurisdiction and non-intervention. Thus, for promoting peaceful uses of outer space, the elaboration of relevant Articles of the Outer Space Treaty is urgently needed to formulate clear conditions for national space activities.


Setsuko Aoki
Professor of Law, Keio University Law School, Japan, saoki@ls.keio.ac.jp.

P.J. Blount
University of Luxembourg.

    Artificial intelligence is an emerging technology which is anticipated to revolutionize society and industry. Artificial intelligence also presents a potential technological component to ensure the cyber and physical security of space assets. However, the use of artificial intelligence in space assets may conflict with certain legal obligations or duties imposed by the space law treaty regime.
    Outer Space Treaty Article VIII obligates a State to retain control over a space object it launches. Using artificial intelligence in space assets presents the question of whether such reliance abdicates a State’s obligation to retain control over a space object it launched or which is registered to it. If so, then issues will exist regarding how a State may balance the use of artificial intelligence in space assets with its obligations under the Outer Space Treaty. For instance, in the emerging autonomous or driverless motor vehicle technology, some jurisdictions in the United States are contemplating laws which mandate human ability to override or otherwise intervene in decision making by artificial intelligence in certain circumstances.
    Similarly, Article III of the Liability Convention imposes liability based on a State’s fault or fault of persons for whom the State is responsible. The use of artificial intelligence in space assets presents the possibility of negating Article III’s fault-based concept. The unsettled liability issues associated with autonomous motor vehicles may very well foreshadow liability and fault allocation issues arising from the use of artificial intelligence in space assets.
    This paper will examine whether the use of artificial intelligence in space assets conforms with a State’s obligation under Outer Space Treaty Article VIII and Liability Convention Article III and analyze what measures, if any, may be necessary to ensure that the provisions are not undermined by the use of artificial intelligence in space assets.


George Anthony Long
Managing Member, Legal Parallax, LLC, United States. gal@legalparallax.com.

    Since its inception, space law has been governed by principles and rules established by governments and primarily applicable to government activities. Today we are experiencing policy changes to encourage private sector initiatives to carry out government missions and to expand potential profit-making opportunities. The space treaties allow for nongovernmental activities in space but only under the auspices of a nation. Each nation approaches legal solutions in their own way. These variations in national law may create challenges for all space-faring nations. If there are no international agreements, they may create a more fragmented, unpredictable, and unsustainable environment for all participants, both governments and private companies in outer space.
    The fragmentation of international law is defined by the development of sets of rules pertaining to specific subject areas that may claim autonomy from principles of general international law. Those subject areas reflect the larger global issues that include the environment, energy, resource availability, migration, health, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Space law is unique and may be considered one of the fragmented areas of international law. The principles of the now 50-year old treaties have been formally acknowledged by all space-faring nations. New developments may threaten that.
    At issue are many areas of space law including liability, property rights, and environmental harm. Different on-orbit space activities such as satellite servicing, exploiting resources, and removing debris highlight the types of space activities with many similar legal concerns but which may result in different rules in different nations and even for different rules within a nation. New and growing legal tensions among space-faring nations will arise.
    Solutions to this problem are all suboptimal. Neither top-down oversight nor separate bottom-up rules or guidelines will suffice as stable, predictable, and long-lasting regimes that create a favorable legal environment for future public and private space exploration and use.


Henry R. Hertzfeld
Director and Research Professor, Space Policy Institute, George Washington University, Washington, DC; hhertzfeld@law.gwu.edu.

Roy Balleste
School of Law, St. Thomas University, 16401 NW 37th Avenue Street, Miami Gardens, Florida 33054, USA.

    This paper tries to give orientation on which legal ramifications a plan for a Moon Village should observe. Through an analysis of the relevant provisions of international space law it shall be highlighted what kind of activities are compatible with international space law as well as which kind of legal developments of space law may be aimed at in order to make future activities of the Moon Village successful.


Stephan Hobe
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c., LL.M. (McGill); Director of the Institute of Air Law, Space Law and Cyber Law; holder of the Jean-Monnet Chair for Public International Law, European Law, European and International Economic Law at the University of Cologne. stephan.hobe@uni-koeln.de.

Rada Popova
Teaching and Research Fellow and PhD candidate at the Institute of Air Law, Space Law and Cyber Law (University of Cologne); (Mag. iur) Law Master's Degree (University of Vienna); Researcher at the 2017 Centre for Studies and Research (Hague Academy of International Law). rada.popova@uni-koeln.de.
Article

What Are Space Resources? What Are Celestial Bodies?

The Need for Refined Legal Definitions in View of Recent Regulatory Efforts Concerning Space Resources

Authors Irmgard Marboe and Michael Friedl
AbstractAuthor's information

    Recent efforts in the regulation of the use of space resources have raised controversial discussions about the compatibility of respective national legislation with international law. The situation is relatively unclear, also because key terms in this context have so far remained relatively vague and undefined under international law, including most importantly the terms space resource and celestial body. The purpose of the present paper is to examine how these terms, as they are used in the UN space treaties, should and could be defined in order to provide better guidance to national legislators and international fora concerned with the formulation of recommendations on space resources governance at the international level. In addition to Articles 31 and 32 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, approaches and definitions used in practice by scientists, such as astronomers, astrophysicist, and engineers, will be taken into account.
    As regards the term space resource it will be addressed to what extent the difference between renewable and non-renewable resources may be relevant for the legal qualification of outer space resources and the regulation of their use. As regards the term celestial body it will be asked whether it could be meaningful to differentiate the Moon – and other planets and stars – from asteroids in the development of legal regimes governing their use and exploitation. In this respect, recent scientific findings will be presented in more detail.
    Technological progress and its legal implications shall be discussed in view of the historical development of the legal regime of outer space, including the concepts of freedom of use, benefit of mankind and common heritage of mankind. The paper will also address comparable concepts and their development in the law of the sea.


Irmgard Marboe
University of Vienna, Austria.

Michael Friedl
University of Vienna, Austria.

    As in previous years, this third Progress Report provides an update on the developments of The Hague International Space Resources Governance Working Group. It focuses on the results of the last meeting of its first phase, which ended in December 2017 and provides an overview of the expected activities in its second phase from 2018-2019.
    Following a very brief recap of the purpose and functioning of the Working Group, the paper will focus on the major milestone achieved at the end of the first phase, namely the “Draft Building Blocks for the Development of an International Framework on Space Resource Activities”. The Building Blocks were formulated as a basis for negotiations on a future governance system for the use of space resources and were widely made available in order to gather feedback from the international community at large, the results of which will be presented.
    The paper will also report on other progress made during the second phase of the Working Group, such as the establishment of a technical panel and a socio-economic panel and the results of the fifth face-to-face meeting.
    Lastly, the paper provides insight into the prospects for a successful conclusion of the activities of the Working Group and the way forward toward an international framework for the governance of space resources.
    All authors are closely involved with the creation and activities of the Working Group.


Tanja Masson-Zwaan
International Institute of Air & Space Law, Leiden University, the Netherlands, t.l.masson@law.leidenuniv.nl (corresponding author).

René Lefeber
Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands, rene.lefeber@minbuza.nl.

Giuseppe Reibaldi
The Hague International Space Resources Governance Working Group, the Netherlands, giuseppe.reibaldi@gmail.com.

Dimitra Stefoudi
International Institute of Air & Space Law, Leiden University, the Netherlands, d.stefoudi@law.leidenuniv.nl.