International Institute of Space Law

Article

Owning the Hosted Payload and International Space Law

Keywords the hosted payload, the launching State, space law, liability
Authors Akiko Watanabe
Author's information

358096 Akiko Watanabe
Independent Researcher, Tokyo, Japan, akiko.watanabe109@gmail.com.
  • Abstract

      This article deals the issues concerning the hosted payload under international space law. To understand the hosted payload projects, the types of the contracts for such projects are discussed, but the harmonization between the risk allocation of the parties concerned and liability issues for damage caused by the hosted payload is mainly studied.
      The hosted payload satellite is said to be the one that the main owner of the satellite spares some space on it for the other party. The details of the projects can be agreed between the parties depending on the projects. Such details are mostly confidential, but the author tries to show the types of collaboration by using the actual examples.
      As the hosted payload satellite has more than two parties that have interests in the satellite, it is very important to agree in advance how to allocate the risks between the parties. On this, especially for the projects between the non-governmental entities, the indemnification against the damage of the third parties caused by such satellite should be included. Notwithstanding such allocation, since the damage from the space activities may become enormous and the financial ability of the non-governmental entities may be limited, the State should be the final bearer of the liability against victims as international space law has in mind.
      Under international space law, the launching State is liable for the damage caused by space activities. The definition of the launching State under international space law could be found in the Liability Convention or the Registration Convention. When the hosted payload project is driven by the non-governmental entities, the identification of the launching State becomes difficult; such definition involves States, and makes it difficult to determine the launching State for activities of the non-governmental entities. As international space law has focused on the protection of the victims, the relief of the victims of the hosted payload projects should be dealt accordingly. In this respect, it would be ideal that the owner or the operator of the hosted payload (or the State which such owner or operator belongs to) should be regarded as the launching State. Through the discussion at UNCOPUOS or the changes found in the State liability under general international law, the possibility to include such party as the launching State is to be examined.

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