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Article

Space Debris Remediation, Its Regulation and the Role of Europe

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 1 2016
Keywords space debris, remediation, European Union, European Space Agency, International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities
Authors Jan Wouters, Philip De Man and Rik Hansen
AbstractAuthor's information

    Ever since the launch of the first space object, discarded bits and pieces ranging from disused payloads and spent upper stages to single bolts and tiny flakes of paint have been cluttering outer space, making valuable and widely used orbits and trajectories to and from earth increasingly unsafe for future use. The response of the international community to this immediate threat to the sustainable use of outer space has been slow and haphazard and remains limited to non-binding guidelines and technical recommendations for space debris mitigation. Recent events such as the 2007 Chinese ASAT test and the 2009 collision between an active American and an in-operational Russian communications satellite demonstrate that more needs to be done in order to develop a strong international regime on active debris remediation. Given the complexities of these issues and the lengthy nature of international negotiations, one should not expect a comprehensive legal regime for space debris mitigation and remediation to materialize any time soon. As it is in the own interest of its users to preserve outer space for future exploration and use, the regulation of debris mitigation by space agencies may well prove a valuable alternative as a starting point for binding remediation rules. Since new international initiatives in this respect are lacking, the present article looks at the various space actors in Europe and at the role some of them may play in developing global rules of space debris remediation.


Jan Wouters
Jean Monnet Chair ad personam EU and Global Governance, Full Professor of International Law and International Organizations and Director of the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies and Institute for International Law, University of Leuven.

Philip De Man
Project Manager, Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, University of Leuven.

Rik Hansen
Doctoral Researcher at the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies and the Institute for International Law of the University of Leuven.

Hamid Kazemi
Aerospace Research Institute, Iran, h kazemi@ari.ac.ir.

Ali Akbar Golroo
Aerospace Research Institute, Iran, ali@ari.ac.ir.

Hadi Mahmoudi
Aerospace Research Institute, Iran, mahmoudi@ari.ac.ir.

Martha Mejía-Kaiser
(Mexico/Germany), marthamejiak@aol.com. PhD in Political and Social Sciences (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México). IISL Member. Co-Chair Manfred Lachs Moot Court Committee, IISL. Independent Researcher. This paper represents the personal opinion of the author and shall not be attributed to any organization with which she is affiliated.
Article

Planetary Protection: Lessons Learned

IAA-IAC/IISL/COSPAR Joint Session: Planetary Protection Issues in Space Exploration, Legal Aspects

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 5 2002
Authors L. Perek

L. Perek
Article

The Impact of Orbital Debris on Commercial Space Systems

Other Legal Issues

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 4 2001
Authors T.C. Brisibe and I. Pessoa-Lopes

T.C. Brisibe

I. Pessoa-Lopes
Article

Introduction, Problem and Winning Briefs

8th Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition, 1999: The Mor-Toaler Sea-Launch Project (Brezonec v. Mastodonia)

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 6 1999

L. Perek
Article

Space Debris: Discussion in the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee in February 1996

1996 IISL-ECSL Space Law Symposium Held on the Occasion of the 35th Session of the Legal Subcommittee of UNCOPUOS in Vienna, Austria: "Protection of the Space Environment"

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 5 1996
Authors L. Perek

L. Perek
Article

Space Debris: Discussion in the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee

1995 IISL-IASL Space Law Symposium Held on the Occasion of the 34th Session of the Legal Subcommittee of UNCOPUOS in Vienna, Austria: "Technical and Policy Issues Related to the Use of the Space Environment"

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 5 1995
Authors L. Perek

L. Perek
Article

Liability Issues on Space Debris: The Opinion of a Teacher in International Law

15th IAA-IISL Scientific-Legal Roundtable in Graz, Austria, 1993: "Scientific and Legal Aspects of Space Debris"

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 5 1993
Authors P.M. Martin

P.M. Martin
Article

Summary of IAA Position Paper on Orbital Debris: Recent Events and Observations

15th IAA-IISL Scientific-Legal Roundtable in Graz, Austria, 1993: "Scientific and Legal Aspects of Space Debris"

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 5 1993
Authors D.S. McKnight

D.S. McKnight
Article

Summary of the First European Conference on Space Debris

15th IAA-IISL Scientific-Legal Roundtable in Graz, Austria, 1993: "Scientific and Legal Aspects of Space Debris"

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 5 1993
Authors W. Flury

W. Flury
Article

Introductory Note

15th IAA-IISL Scientific-Legal Roundtable in Graz, Austria, 1993: "Scientific and Legal Aspects of Space Debris"

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 5 1993
Authors V. Kopal

V. Kopal
Article

Space Debris: A Functional Approach

Managing Environmental Issues Including Space Debris

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 3 1992
Authors Fasan

Fasan
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