International Institute of Space Law


A Search for the Basic Rules-of-the-Road in Orbit

Summarized Findings from Hunting Basic Traffic Rules in Treaties, Guidelines and Standards

Authors Hjalte Osborn Frandsen
Author's information

Hjalte Osborn Frandsen
University of Copenhagen.
  • Abstract

      In this paper it is argued that the long-running arguments about the most feasible regulatory approach to Space Traffic Management, has been overshadowing the equally important discussion concerning the actual core provisions of the traffic regime, namely the Rules-of-the-Road. The paper seeks to clarify the concept of Rules-of-the-Road in the context of space traffic. The core contribution is an analysis of the state of Rules-of-the-Road in international space law today, considering a broad array of hard and soft legal instruments.
      The investigation find that despite the many initiatives related to Space Traffic Management, there are few tangible, specific rules clarifying how actual Space Traffic should be conducted on an operational level. In other words, there is an absence of actual “Rules-of-the-Road” for traffic in Low Earth Orbit in the current body of international space law.

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