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    My paper advocates for the creation of a legal policy aimed at accelerating the initiation of the “Space Debris Removal Business” as quickly as possible. This policy is focused on government compensation for situations where the damage in outer space exceeds an insured amount. The policy will cover any damage derived from active orbital services, including Space Debris Removal.
    There is a common understanding across the globe that Space Debris Remediation is becoming necessary to keep space activities safe and sustainable. It would be ideal if a core set of laws were applicable to all nations. However, because Space Debris is increasing rapidly, we cannot wait for the formulation of international standards.
    Therefore, I would like to propose a measure to minimize the barriers of entry into the “Space Debris Removal Business,” which features a compulsory insurance and governmental compensation system (by referring the system in the field of rocket launch) to encourage private companies to conduct Space Debris Removal as a part of their core businesses.
    To sum up, until the moment an international rule is established, each country should proceed in haste to implement legislation for eliminating space debris. As industrial technologies develop, I expect to see more nations voluntarily remove broken satellites as well as upper stages of rockets that they themselves launched. I hope to support a burgeoning international debate on this issue.


Mihoko Shintani
Partner, Lawyer, TMI Associates, 23rd Floor, Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-6123, Japan & Attorney-at-Law, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Ochanomizu Sola City, 4-6 Kandasurugadai, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-8008 Japan.
Article

Space Debris: Between Unity and Fragmentation – Risk as a Static Principle with Dynamic Outcomes

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 6 2019
Keywords risk, space object, space debris removal, material environment, social milieu, collision prevention, harmful interference
Authors Ward Munters
AbstractAuthor's information

    This paper analyses the interrelationship between science, risk, international law and the prevention of collisions between space objects, so as to contribute to progressive development of international law and of an epistemic community invested with a common conceptual and terminological apparatus, as well as to examine interrelated juridical and technical obstacles and opportunities regarding the creation of an informed, uniform and therefore, it is posited, more effective regulatory regime.
    To contribute to establishing a common frame of reference, the article presents and explores an analytical and theoretical mapping exercise of some structural contours delineating mutual space object relations, positing the common construction of risk and its collective management as central to the asymptotic realization of uniformity in standards concerning space objects, space debris and its removal, and preventing physical interference or collisions. The paper proceeds from scientific insights into collision risk to uncover the extent of the technical notion of risk in this area before briefly examining how risk management mechanisms operate in international law to produce restrictions or permissions regarding future conduct, activities or incidents. Risk emerges as a ‘static’, i.e. common, principle with ‘dynamic’, i.e. variable, outcomes that may form the normative foundation of a uniform yet highly adaptive regulatory framework – a principle thus particularly suited to protean conditions in orbital space. Finally, some sketches follow of a heuristic device for envisaging the normative and jurisprudential construction of a static risk principle that can correlatively produce the substantively variable permissive rights and restrictive obligations as may attach to space objects, i.e. output, on the basis of evolving material conditions in orbit, i.e. input.


Ward Munters
Institute for International Law and Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, KU Leuven, Tiensestraat 41, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.
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.

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

    Lagrangian Points constitute a stable gravitational point between two or more celestial bodies. Previously used for scientific endeavours, such as the SOHO mission, in the future, Lagrangian Points may also serve to be both commercially and strategically advantageous given the nominal amount of resources required to keep a satellite or similar orbital asset in station-keeping on a Lagrangian Point.
    To that extent, Lagrangian Points may be viewed as having a commercial ‘value ’ because of the competitive advantage afforded to the owner/operator of a spacecraft occupying such a position. This ‘value ’proposition has certain similarities with geostationary orbital positions in Earth orbit.
    Although propertisation of space and celestial bodies is prohibited under the Outer Space Treaty 1967 (UN), orbits within space still remain rivalrous and commercially lucrative (Green, et al. 2018). By operating in a Lagrangian Point, satellites could effectively exclude competing services from also operating within those Lagrangian Points. For example, where one satellite — or a satellite constellation — operates within a Lagrangian Point, another satellite or satellite constellation might be precluded from operating within the same space of that Lagrangian Point, or its proximity.
    This paper builds on previous work regarding the regulation of natural monopolies to mitigate anti-competitive behaviour risks (Green, et al. 2018) and proposes recommendations on how the risk of natural monopolies forming amongst Lagrangian Point missions may be mitigated under a variety of instruments available to both UNOOSA and the ITU.
    In addition to this, this paper considers the military use of Lagrangian Points to mitigate the risk of transforming space into a warfare domain.


Thomas Green
Thomas Green, PhD Student, University of Wollongong.

Patrick Neumann
Patrick Neumann, Chief Scientist, Neumann Space Pty Ltd.

Kent Grey
Kent Grey, Partner, Minter Ellison, 25 Grenfell Street, Adelaide 5000 Australia.

Trevor Sandlin
Trevor Sandlin, Executive Officer, USNS Fall River, United States Merchant Marine.

    The importance of Space Traffic Management (STM) has increased in the international space community and has become widely recognized. This might be due to the increasing need to enhance space safety and security. Today, STM is still a controversial issue and there is no internationally agreed standard, definition, or framework in this regard. Recently, states are realising the importance of the topic and the need for further international collaboration. Therefore, several states, international organizations and individuals started to dive deep into this topic. The UAE Space Agency has conducted a study on the application of STM to national policies and regulatory designs. This study reviewed some of the international studies such as the IAA Cosmic Study of 2017. It also reviewed some domestic regulations and policies such as the 2018 U.S. policy on STM. The study in general focused on certain areas such as the definition of STM, provisions in the international space treaties that are relevant to STM, elements of space traffic management, and whether if these elements covered by the UAE Space Policy, draft Law, and Regulations. The UAE Space Agency, has interest in STM in general. The study has taken into consideration the main elements and standards of STM, when developing the domestic regulations and processes. The UAESA has and will continue also to join other global efforts towards developing a suitable international regulatory framework for STM. In this paper, the study’s elements and comparisons will be described, along with concluding remarks. In addition, it will indicate how these conclusions about STM were integrated into the National Space Policy and various Regulations within the UAE Space Regulatory Framework.


Fatheya Al Sharji
Space Policies and Legislations Department, UAE Space Agency, Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

    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.

Joanna Langlade
Alumna of the Leiden University Advanced LL.M. in Air and Space Law.
Article

Commercial OOS and Its Future: Policy and Legal Issues beyond Life Extension

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 8 2018
Keywords on-orbit servicing (OOS), on-orbit assembly (OOA), on-orbit manufacturing (OOM), active debris removal (ADR), modular spacecraft concepts
Authors Olga Stelmakh-Drescher, Ian Christensen and Joerg Kreisel
AbstractAuthor's information

    Satellites have typically been viewed as high-cost, static platforms that once launched have a limited orbital lifetime and a physical and mechanical structure that cannot be altered or maintained (with very limited exceptions). However, in the current day, a number of technical and market innovations are being deployed by the private sector, which might change this paradigm. These include small satellites, on-orbit assembly (OOA) and modular spacecraft concepts, and on-orbit servicing (OOS) in particular.
    OOS represents a number of possible changes in the traditional conceptualization of space systems and operations, and requires new policy, regulatory, and legal approaches. OOS potentially allows operators to extend the lifetime of existing, hence, traditional satellites; and in future possibly provide repair services or correct on-orbit anomalies or other servicing based on cooperative design and related standards.
    Space debris is a growing concern for the use of outer space. At the dawn of the space era there was no interim solution for objects launched into space once their lifetime in orbit was over: they were either left in orbit, moved to a graveyard orbit or deorbited. OOS capabilities may become part of the solution through both life extension and deorbiting of existing space infrastructure elements as well as debris avoidance due to new cooperative design philosophies aiming at OOS. As such OOS has implications for space debris mitigation. Requirements laid down in national legislation are important to define the extent of execution of space debris mitigation guidelines, including the end-of-life plan. However, space debris implications are only one element which must be considered in relation to OOS capabilities.
    In many national jurisdictions OOS is a new application without clearly defined regulatory and licensing practices. States have an obligation to provide this authorization and supervision framework, while industry requires a permissive regulatory framework to provide legal certainty. All stakeholders are committed to preserving the safety of the operating environment.
    With that in mind, this paper analyzes the prerequisites for evolution of OOS and opportunities for market creation, provide an overview of existing boundary conditions regarding OOS policy and legal scope and its commercial implementation including risks and challenges to be address, and examine how development of technologies needed for OOS could influence insurance and serve as economic driver. Finally, the paper will try to envision the way ahead towards capacity-building for OOS.


Olga Stelmakh-Drescher
International Institute of Space Commerce, 147 S. Adams Street, Rockville MD, 20850, United States, osd@iisc.im (corresponding author).

Ian Christensen
Secure World Foundation, 525 Zang Street, Suite D, Broomfield, Colorado, 80021, United States, ichristensen@swfound.org.

Joerg Kreisel
JKIC, Christhauser Strasse 67a, D-42897, Remscheid, Germany, jk@jkic.de.

P.J. Blount

Rafael Moro-Aguilar

    China’s first space station, Tiangong-1, returned to earth on 1 April 2018 after more than six years in outer space. This was not isolated and some of the previous return of space objects are Cosmos 854 in 1978, Skylab in 1979, Delta II second stage in 1997, MIR Space Station in 2001, Italian BeppoSax in 2003, US-193 in 2008 and ESA’s GOCE in 2013. In light of these events and its inevitably increasing frequencies, it is necessary to reflect on the international law governing the re-entry of space objects.
    In the current international legal framework, the state obligations cover the whole process of re-entry without obvious loopholes, preventative ex ante and responsible ex post. But the state practice is largely uneven and there are controversies and ambiguities over obligations to forewarn hazardous events and disclose information for facilitating damage control and cleanup operation; under what conditions can reentry objects be actively removed; and how to return the objects and compensate the damages. This requires adjustment and fine-tuning of some critical notions in the space treaties and other legal documents, particularly, how to apply victim-oriented and environment-friendly principles in space sector, the balance between launching states’ jurisdiction and control of space objects and the interest of other states, the definition and determination of damages and state responsibility for hazardous activities.


Xiaodan Wu
Law School, China Central University of Finance and Economics.

Irina Chernykh
Department of International Law, RUDN University.
Article

Mitigation of Anti-Competitive Behaviour in Telecommunication Satellite Orbits and Management of Natural Monopolies

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 2 2018
Keywords anti-competitive conduct, constellation satellites, monopoly
Authors Thomas Green, Patrick Neumann and Kent Grey
AbstractAuthor's information

    Previous activities in developing satellite networks for telecommunications such as the TelStar, Relay and Syncom satellite networks of the early 1960s through to the Iridium, Globalstar and ORBCOMM constellations of the 1990s were reserved to geostationary orbits and low orbits with less than 100 satellites comprising their network. These satellite networks distinguished themselves by being business-to-government and business-tobusiness facing by contracting with government and domestic carriage and media providers for the supply of services. Customers for these services did not constitute either small to medium sized businesses, or individuals in the general public.
    With the advent of what has been dubbed ‘NewSpace’, however, new entrants into the market are developing constellation satellite networks that operate in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Unlike the legacy satellite telecommunication networks of the 1960s-1990s, these constellation satellite networks are focused on, amongst other things, Internet of Things (IOT) devices, asset management and tracking, Wi-Fi hot-spotting, backhaul networking and contracting with small businesses and the general public.
    Regional examples of these new telecommunication heavyweights include Fleet Space Technologies (Fleet) - an Australian company undertaking to launch 100 satellites into LEO, Sky and Space Global (SAS) - an Australian-British-Israeli consortium that intends to provide a constellation of 200 small satellites, OneWeb’s planned fleet of 650 satellites that may be expanded to 2,000 satellites, and, SpaceX’s planned StarLink network of 12,000 satellites. In addition, companies such as Spire and PlanetLabs intend to provide geospatial information through their own constellation networks to government and educational institutions alongside the private sector.
    Although propertisation of space and celestial bodies is prohibited under the Outer Space Treaty 1967 (UN), near-Earth orbits still remain rivalrous and commercially lucrative. By operating in a LEO environment, these satellite constellation networks have the potential to exclude competing services by new entrants to market. For example, where one constellation network has an orbital plane or orbital shell, another constellation may not be able to have the same orbital plane or orbital shell.
    Presently, the literature to date focuses on the allocation of spectrum bandwidth, and space traffic management with a focus on orbital debris mitigation. This paper addresses these concerns and offers recommendations on how the risk of ‘natural’ monopolies forming for specific constellation satellite networks in LEO may be mitigated under instruments available to both UNOOSA and the ITU.


Thomas Green
(Corresponding author), Neumann Space Pty Ltd, 1/41 Wood Avenue, Brompton 5007 South Australia, tom@neumannspace.com.

Patrick Neumann
Neumann Space Pty Ltd, 1/41 Wood Avenue, Brompton 5007 South Australia.

Kent Grey
b Partner, Minter Ellison, 25 Grenfell Street, Adelaide 5000 Australia, kent.grey@minterellison.com.
Article

The Belt and Road Initiative (B&R) Provides Opportunity for China to Dominate Space Cooperation in Asia?

An Analysis from the Legal Perspective

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 2 2018
Keywords Asian Space Cooperation, B&R Initiative, Competition to Regional Space Dominance, Chinese National Space Legislation, APSCO’s Legal Framework
Authors Mingyan Nie
AbstractAuthor's information

    The co-existence of more than one regional space cooperation entity in Asia presents the competition on the cooperation of space affairs in this territory. Against this background, the Asian space powers take all possible measures to attract more space partners. The Belt&Road Initiative (B&R), which is defined as a comprehensive strategy for China to meet the challenges brought by the globalization, provides opportunities for the space field. However, legal improvements are demanded to be made on both domestic and regional levels for responding to the relevant legal challenges. On the domestic level, the Chinese space regulation which is intended to be formulated before the year of 2020 is recommended to encompass fundamental principles and provisions friendly to non-governmental entities and foreign partners. On the regional level, the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO) is required to transform its role from Chinese platform to compete with its Asian rivals on space cooperation affairs to a co-builder and services provider of the B&R space programs (e.g., the SIC). Accordingly, legal coordination approached to ensure implementing the “co-sharing” principle is needed to be made between APSCO and the SIC sponsor; moreover, APSCO itself must do modifying jobs to improve its legal framework to adapt the requirements of its new role.


Mingyan Nie
Faculty of Law, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Article

Report of the 32nd IAA/IISL Scientific-Legal Roundtable

Technological and Legal Challenges for On-Orbit Servicing

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 7 2017
Authors Marc Haese

Marc Haese
Article

An Enabler or a Barrier?

“NewSpace” and Japan’s Two National Space Acts of 2016

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 4 2017
Authors Setsuko Aoki
Author's information

Setsuko Aoki
Professor of Law, Keio University Law School, Japan, saoki@ls.keio.ac.jp.

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

Access_open The 2016 Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition

Case Concerning Space Debris, Commercial Spaceflight Services and Liability (Banché v. Rastalia)

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 12 2016
Authors Melissa K. Force
Author's information

Melissa K. Force
Co-Chair, Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Committee, IISL.
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.
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