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Article

Out into the Dark: Removing Space Debris from the Geostationary Orbit

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 6 2019
Keywords Space law, IADC, remediation, active space debris removal, Geostationary Orbit, GEO region, space debris mitigation guidelines, re-orbit guideline, Outer Space Treaty, Liability Convention
Authors Martha Mejía-Kaiser
AbstractAuthor's information

    During the first decades of placing space objects in the Geostationary Orbit, satellite owners and operators abandoned space objects at their end-of-life, or just freed the slot by removing their satellites with the last kilograms of fuel. Also rocket stages that propelled geostationary satellites were abandoned therein. Due to orbital perturbations at about 36,000 km, objects that do not have station-keeping systems can drift into the slots of neighboring satellites and disturb their operation. Space debris objects at this altitude take at least one million years to naturally de-orbit and re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere. The accumulation of space debris objects that permanently cross the Geostationary Orbit is a growing hazard to operational satellites. Researchers at the IADC who published a set of Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines in 2002, identified the Geostationary Orbit as a ‘protected region’. One Mitigation Guideline recommends to re-orbit space objects that are reaching their end-of-life outside of this protected area. A growing number of States and international organizations reflect the IADC Mitigation Guidelines in national legislation, recommendations and standards. However, there is still an increase of large space debris objects in this area. Since it is not realistic to wait (up to one million years) for the natural deorbiting of these space objects, remediation measures need to be initiated, such as debris removal with external systems. This article describes the State practice of re-orbiting and proposes a strategy for debris removal to maintain a sustainable access and use of the Geostationary Orbit.


Martha Mejía-Kaiser
PhD in Political and Social Sciences, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Member of IISL Board of Directors. Independent Researcher.

P.J. Blount
University of Luxembourg.

Chuck Dickey
TCTB, LLC, P. O. Box 591031, Houston, TX 77259.
Article

Space Traffic Management: Not Just Air Traffic Management for Outer Space and More Than Data Analytics

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 4 2019
Keywords Space Traffic Management, Air Traffic Management, Space Situational Awareness, data analytics, technical measures, regulatory measures, space traffic rules
Authors Stefan A. Kaiser
AbstractAuthor's information

    Space Traffic Management is a complex concept that consists of technical, organisational and regulatory elements. It is not foreseen in the Outer Space Treaties and yet considered a crucial concept for a safe and sustainable access to space and interference free operations in space. Space Situational Awareness and Space Surveillance and Tracking are not identical to Space Traffic Management which is broader and reaches farther. Space Situational Awareness and Space Surveillance and Tracking are cognitive elements of Space Traffic Management. Air Traffic Management is often used as a reference for Space Traffic Management. However, not only the legal regimes of sovereign airspace as opposed to the regime of Outer Space are substantially different. Alone the differences of the physical characteristics support different technical approaches in air space and Outer Space. Motions in air space that follow aerodynamics and ballistics tend to be short lived and henceforth air traffic control has evolved from short term, tactical measures. Opposed to that, objects in Outer Space follow orbital dynamics and their trajectories persist for longer periods, so that control procedures need to address longer term effects and be of a strategic nature. In that context, Air Traffic Management has evolved in an opposite direction than Space Traffic Management. During recent years, rule-making for Space Traffic Management takes new roads. Lacking hard treaty law, an increasing range of non-binding standards, national regulations, practices of private bodies, voluntary information exchanges and cooperative routines tend to synchronize selected elements of Space Traffic Management. In addition, data analytics is taking an expanding role in Space Situational Awareness.


Stefan A. Kaiser
Wassenberg, Germany.

    In 2018, the president of the United States released his Space Policy Directive-3, which commands several sectors of the federal executive apparatus to reassess their current and future efforts to address space traffic management and space situational awareness issues. The reasons for this Directive can be boiled down to the belief that the continued use of the orbital realm depends on responsible management, which in turn depends on myriad factors that include the development of new technologies, the refinement of data gathering, and the clarification of governmental operational roles. In particular, the Directive calls for enhanced standardization of safety and best practices, and doles out tasks for relevant agencies, among which the Federal Communications Commission plays a significant role. Given the FCCs influence on the licensure of satellites and the proliferation of constellations, it will be a leader in fulfilling the obligations set out in SPD-3. In October of 2018, the FCC announced it would revisit its much older orbital debris management rules, with an eye towards their revision and in light of its responsibility for increasing traffic in outer space. In November, they released their Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, in which they tackle a multitude of germane topics, from spectrum use to orbital lifetime, and from choice of orbit to post-mission disposal. The comment period opened up in early 2019, and more than eighty comments were submitted to the FCC by various industry representatives, federal agencies, and international entities. This essay proposes to examine how the FCC’s planned changes will address concerns outlined in SPD-3, what work remains to be done, and challenges the agency faces in ensuring U.S. compliance with international space law and environmental obligations.


Michael S. Dodge
Assistant Professor, University of North Dakota, Department of Space Studies.

    On-orbit Servicing (OOS) will revolutionize the satellite industry, by offering tools that enable life-extension and debris remediation. However, the advanced technology heightens the risk of liability for damages and the overall perceived security in space. In addition, international OOS missions challenges the traditional concepts in the international space Treaties. Whilst OOS is not prohibited under the current legal framework, it is clear that the legal framework needs to be supplemented in order to address the new challenges. Based on the findings of the regulatory landscape, the paper offers various suggestions as to how the legal and political challenges can be addressed. These suggestions include meeting security concerns through a greater sense of transparency and trust, enabled by for example more information on the locations of the satellites, and rules for OOS behaviour.


Thea Flem Dethlefsen
LLM (Adv.) candidate in Air and Space Law, International Institute of Air and Space Law, Leiden University.

    The proliferation of space debris and the imminent deployment of large constellations of satellites in LEO could negatively impact the long-term sustainability of outer space activities. A potential solution to clean up space and maintain a sustainable space environment is Active Debris Removal (ADR). The ADR is a potential revenue earning activity, but such activity needs a legal framework that will dissolve the existing concerns. Space law is fundamental for supporting a potential business case for commercial ADR missions. This paper will bring into discussion an international mechanism addressing the financial means for commercial ADR activity with a focus on LEO. By doing so, this paper will address the advent of ADR as lucrative activity and will analyze the proposal to finance an international fund by the launching states and ADR operators in a “Pay or play” fashion.
    In particular, this paper will analyze the need of an international funding mechanism for space debris removal and analyze the liability issues affecting the launching state and indirectly the private company with ADR capabilities. This paper aims to answer why private companies should contribute to an international fund for space debris removal depending on the Post-Mission Disposal capabilities of the satellites deployed in orbit and/or ADR solutions identified in case the satellites fail to answer the control commands. Further, this paper will analyze the prospects to manage the activity for ADR by accessing this fund.


Claudiu Mihai Tăiatu
LLM (Adv.) in Air and Space Law, International Institute of Air and Space Law, Leiden University.

Thea Flem Dethlefsen
LLB and LLM, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Adv. LL.M. Air and Space Law, Leiden University (2018).

Heejeong Vicky Jeong
LLB (Hons.), London School of Economics and Political Science, UK. Adv. LL.M. Air and Space Law, Leiden University (2018).

Antonino Salmeri
LLM (cum laude), University of Catania, LLM (cum laude) Law and Government of the EU, LUISS University, Rome. Adv. LLM Air and Space Law, Leiden University (2018).
Article

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

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 8 2018
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

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

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 8 2018
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.

P.J. Blount

Rafael Moro-Aguilar
Article

Space Law and International Organizations

10th Nandasiri Jasentuliyana Keynote Lecture on Space Law

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 1 2018
Authors Marco Ferrazzani
Author's information

Marco Ferrazzani
Legal Counsel of the European Space Agency. Director of the International Institute of Space Law.
Article

The Use of Space Technology Export Controls as a Bargaining Solution for Sustainability

A Chicago Convention Model of Space Governance

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 5 2017
Authors Gilles Doucet and Cassandra Steer
Author's information

Gilles Doucet
Gilles Doucet, Spectrum Space Security Inc.

Cassandra Steer
Cassandra Steer, Executive Director, Women in International Security-Canada.
Article

Emerging Approaches in Development Efforts

Chinese Perspective on Space and Sustainable Development

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 5 2017
Authors Yun Zhao
Author's information

Yun Zhao
Professor of Law, The University of Hong Kong.

Stefan A. Kaiser
LLM (McGill). Wassenberg, Germany, stefanakaiser@aol.com. This paper represents the author’s personal opinion and shall not be attributed to any organization with which he is affiliated. Copyright by Stefan A. Kaiser, 2017. Published by American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc., with permission.

Jie Long
Faculty of Law, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, longjie@hku.hk.
Article

The Implementation of TCBMs in Outer Space Activities

From the OST Principles to the International Space Governance Action

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 1 2017
Authors Valentina Nardone
Author's information

Valentina Nardone
Ph.D. in Public, Comparative and International Law, Sapienza University of Rome, valentina.nardone@uniroma1.it.
Article

Space Traffic Management

Top Priority for Safety Operations

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 1 2017
Authors Claudiu Mihai Taiatu
Author's information

Claudiu Mihai Taiatu
Adv. LL.M. in Air and Space Law, Leiden University

Nicholas Puschman
DipEU, L.LB (Hons.), L.LM, Graduate Trainee in the International Law Division, European Space Agency and Executive Secretary of the European Centre for Space Law (ECSL).
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