DOI: 10.5553/IISL/2020063006004

International Institute of Space LawAccess_open


Back to the Future: Space Law in a Networked World

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    Space technologies and their ever-growing innovative practical applications are changing the way humanity functions. This trend towards transformational change and the ‘democratisation’ of space is expected to extensively penetrate into our everyday lives. Currently, space activities are being undertaken by numerous domestic and international operators, which range from owners of a single satellite to corporations planning to operate large constellations of satellites. These NewSpace activities, while offering unprecedented opportunities for humanity in aiming towards a prosperous world, also pose some unparalleled challenges to the foundational norm and objective of international space law – that the ‘exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development’. In this paper, the authors discuss some of these challenges posed by NewSpace activities, particularly with respect to communications, and propose specific steps to be taken by the international community to maintain and update the international space regulatory framework. Based on three case studies of three intergovernmental organisations – involving the originally constituted structure of INTELSAT and the current structures of INTERSPUTNIK and ARABSAT, this paper describes their appropriateness in maintaining the key above-mentioned objective of international space law.

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