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International Institute of Space Law

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Issue 8, 2018 Expand all abstracts
Article

“Leviathan Lite” - Towards a Global Stewardship Organization for Space Domain Awareness, Conduct, And Remediation

Keywords Satellite Regulation, Space Traffic Management, Social Contract
Authors Harrison E. Kearby, John M. Horack and Elizabeth K. Newton
AbstractAuthor's information

    This paper examines the dimensions, legal and policy implications, and ramifications of a proposed International Space Situational Awareness Organization (ISSAO), whose charter would be to provide leadership for international and collaborative stewardship of the space environment in LEO and beyond. As ever more satellites, rockets, and space stations are launched into space, the need for debris tracking, debris remediation, orbital traffic deconfliction, and definitions of ‘best practices in caretaking the space environment’ grow. Current organizations and programs are successful, at least to some extent, in educating the world on the potential dangers of space debris, and the importance of space situational awareness, yet they have little legal or political standing to provide enforcement, compliance, or remediation. Many global discussions related to space situational domain awareness have called for a cooperative international effort to create guidelines, if not charter an organization tasked with the stewardship of the space environment. Here, we examine important precedents set forth in international law and cooperation, and apply these to a proposed comprehensive body to steward space situational awareness and debris mitigation. We elucidate the requirements, enforceable powers, and probable limits of such an organization as well as important questions to be answered prior to establishment of such a body.


Harrison E. Kearby
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, John Glenn College of Public Affairs, The Ohio State University.

John M. Horack
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, The Ohio State University.

Elizabeth K. Newton
John Glenn College of Public Affairs, The Ohio State University.
Article

A New Approach to National Laws Aimed at Encouraging Small Satellites’ Space Activities

Authors Helena Correia Mendonça, Magda Cocco and Cristina Melo Miranda
Author's information

Helena Correia Mendonça
Vieira de Almeida & Associados.

Magda Cocco
Vieira de Almeida & Associados.

Cristina Melo Miranda
Vieira de Almeida & Associados.
Article

The Principle of Non-Appropriation and the Exclusive Uses of LEO by Large Satellite Constellations

Keywords Non-Appropriation Principle, LEO, Exclusive Use, Large Satellite Constellation, Mega Constellation
Authors Yuri Takaya-Umehara, Quentin Verspieren and Goutham Karthikeyan
AbstractAuthor's information

    Newly proposed projects of large satellite constellations are challenging the established business models of the satellite industry. Targeting the Low Earth Orbit (LEO), already the most populated orbit for space applications, these constellations pose an increasing risk regarding the sustainable use of outer space. According to the Inter- Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC), presenting at the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the UN COPUOS in 2018, the implementation level of the IADC Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines in LEO is considered as “insufficient and no apparent trend towards a better implementation is observed", when compared with GEO. In parallel, 11 private entities such as OneWeb, Telesat and SpaceX have applied for approval from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to initiate large satellite constellation projects.
    Before the launch of these massive constellations, several legal issues have been identified from the perspectives of international obligations related to liability and registration. Taking them into consideration, as well as the IADC recommendations, the present article reviews one of the most fundamental principles in space law, the principle of non-appropriation, to clarify its applicability to the exclusive use of specific LEO orbits by large satellite constellations. After this clarification, the paper concludes with proposals for possible solutions.


Yuri Takaya-Umehara
The University of Tokyo.

Quentin Verspieren
The University of Tokyo.

Goutham Karthikeyan
The University of Tokyo & Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (ISAS-JAXA).

Gilles Doucet
Spectrum Space Security Inc.
Article

Commercial OOS and Its Future: Policy and Legal Issues beyond Life Extension

Keywords on-orbit servicing (OOS), on-orbit assembly (OOA), on-orbit manufacturing (OOM), active debris removal (ADR), modular spacecraft concepts
Authors Olga Stelmakh-Drescher, Ian Christensen and Joerg Kreisel
AbstractAuthor's information

    Satellites have typically been viewed as high-cost, static platforms that once launched have a limited orbital lifetime and a physical and mechanical structure that cannot be altered or maintained (with very limited exceptions). However, in the current day, a number of technical and market innovations are being deployed by the private sector, which might change this paradigm. These include small satellites, on-orbit assembly (OOA) and modular spacecraft concepts, and on-orbit servicing (OOS) in particular.
    OOS represents a number of possible changes in the traditional conceptualization of space systems and operations, and requires new policy, regulatory, and legal approaches. OOS potentially allows operators to extend the lifetime of existing, hence, traditional satellites; and in future possibly provide repair services or correct on-orbit anomalies or other servicing based on cooperative design and related standards.
    Space debris is a growing concern for the use of outer space. At the dawn of the space era there was no interim solution for objects launched into space once their lifetime in orbit was over: they were either left in orbit, moved to a graveyard orbit or deorbited. OOS capabilities may become part of the solution through both life extension and deorbiting of existing space infrastructure elements as well as debris avoidance due to new cooperative design philosophies aiming at OOS. As such OOS has implications for space debris mitigation. Requirements laid down in national legislation are important to define the extent of execution of space debris mitigation guidelines, including the end-of-life plan. However, space debris implications are only one element which must be considered in relation to OOS capabilities.
    In many national jurisdictions OOS is a new application without clearly defined regulatory and licensing practices. States have an obligation to provide this authorization and supervision framework, while industry requires a permissive regulatory framework to provide legal certainty. All stakeholders are committed to preserving the safety of the operating environment.
    With that in mind, this paper analyzes the prerequisites for evolution of OOS and opportunities for market creation, provide an overview of existing boundary conditions regarding OOS policy and legal scope and its commercial implementation including risks and challenges to be address, and examine how development of technologies needed for OOS could influence insurance and serve as economic driver. Finally, the paper will try to envision the way ahead towards capacity-building for OOS.


Olga Stelmakh-Drescher
International Institute of Space Commerce, 147 S. Adams Street, Rockville MD, 20850, United States, osd@iisc.im (corresponding author).

Ian Christensen
Secure World Foundation, 525 Zang Street, Suite D, Broomfield, Colorado, 80021, United States, ichristensen@swfound.org.

Joerg Kreisel
JKIC, Christhauser Strasse 67a, D-42897, Remscheid, Germany, jk@jkic.de.
Article

Regulatory Aspects in Launch Services Contracts for Small Satellites

Successful Docking in Legal Space?

Authors Kang Duan
AbstractAuthor's information

    The United Nations space treaties establish the basic legal framework governing outer space activities. While it is through national space legislation that the spirit and schemes in these treaties are further instilled into specific entities undertaking space activities, launch services contracts play a notable role in final stage of rendezvous and docking with the legal infrastructure at international level. For example, allocation of risk/liability mechanism in these contracts is deeply influenced by treaty provisions and national legislation. These arrangements seem to be made all the more complicated in the context of international launch projects. Growing demand from the small satellite sector for ride hitching opportunities in space launch begs the question of whether and how the launch service contracts need to be tailored to accommodate industry demand and regulatory needs. This paper purports to examine some of the regulatory issues surrounding risk/liability management under standard and piggyback launch services contracts, which reflect deliberate compliance on micro-level with the international and national legal framework on macro-level.


Kang Duan
China Great Wall Industry Corporation.