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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.
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

Evolving Norms on Pre-Launch Notifications of Space Launch Vehicles and Space Object Registration

A Historical Perspective in the Context of UNISPACE+50 Thematic Priority Three

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 4 2018
Authors Kazushi Kobata
AbstractAuthor's information

    The development of the requirements for information exchange on space objects and events (now identified as UNISPACE+50 thematic priority three) has been accelerating from around the mid-2000s. However, it has yet to be highlighted that, for around 30 years, many proposals of these norms appeared repeatedly with many similarities in different international bodies. The purpose of this study is to better understand the chronology of the evolution of these norms, and to evaluate how and why certain current norms, specifically the “Guidelines for the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities” (“LTS Guidelines”), were able to evolve upon states reaching a consensus and agreeing upon formalized text, as compared to similar proposals in the past which failed to reach a consensus. Analyzing the conference room papers in the Ad hoc Committee (“AHC”) on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (“PAROS”) in the Conference on Disarmament (“CD”) and the diplomatic records in Japan until the mid- 1990s, research shows that the following three proposals on Confidence Building Measures (“CBM”) of outer space (that were never implemented) ended up entering the discussion that led to the LTS Guidelines: (a) proposals on ensuring the immunity of satellites; (b) strengthening the Registration Convention; and (c) pre-launch notifications. This paper discusses the deliberative process of proposals (b) and (c) in the AHC, and how these two proposals later evolved into the LTS Guidelines on enhancing the practice of registering space objects as well as guidelines on pre-launch notification of space launch vehicles. It is noteworthy that, while the proposal on pre-launch notifications had gathered positive reactions in the AHC on PAROS, the US insisted that the issue be dealt with in the Missile Technology Control Regime (“MTCR”), which resulted in the formulation of the International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (also known as the Hague Code of Conduct or “HCOC”) after consultation with like-minded countries outside the UN. However, recently, these discussions regarding the current LTS Guidelines on pre-launch notification of space launch vehicles returned to be discussed at the UN and a consensus was partially reached. The HCOC is sometimes criticized by non-Subscribing States that it was formulated by the initiatives of non-UN countries that possess missile technology. However, the LTS Guidelines demonstrate that norms on prelaunch notification are also acceptable in the UN in the context of the safety of space activities. These findings indicate that the norms on outer space lie across multiple areas such as peaceful uses of outer space, disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation. They have gradually progressed to change the international arena, slowly and intermittently.


Kazushi Kobata
Deputy Manager, Legal and Compliance Division, Japan Aerospace Exploration, Agency (JAXA), Ochanomizu Sola city, 4-6 Kandasurugadai, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 101-8008 Japan, kobata.kazushi@jaxa.jp. Researcher, Institute of Space Law, Keio University, 2-15-45 Mita, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8345 Japan.

    In 2010, the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the UNCOPUOS formed the Working Group on Long Term Sustainability (LTS) of Outer Space Activities, assigning it the task of formulating voluntary non-binding guidelines focusing on sustainable space utilization, space debris and space operations, space weather, and regulatory regimes. At its June 2016 meeting, the UNCOPUOS approved 12 of the proposed guidelines, while several remained on the UNCOPUOS agenda. Although the LTS Guidelines are voluntary, their adoption by the UNCOPUOS and consideration by the UNGA’s 4th Committee, are evidence of a growing awareness of their potential contribution to the evolution of space law applicable to all states. This paper explores whether the LTS Guidelines could evolve into customary legal norms as part of customary international law (CIL) and steps that could promote that evolution.


Larry F. Martinez
California State University, Long Beach, USA.

James H. Armstead
Attorney, USA.

Merve Erdem
University of Ankara, Turkey.
Article

The Indonesian Space Act

Pristine Entrant in the Asia-Pacific Region

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 4 2017
Authors Kumar Abhijeet
Author's information

Kumar Abhijeet
Doctoral candidate, Institute of Air and Space Law, University of Cologne, Assistant Professor, National Law School of India University, Bangalore, kumarabhijeet@nls.ac.in.

Stephan Hobe
Professor of International Law, Director, Institute of Air and Space Law, University of Cologne.

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

Studies on the Establishment of National Mechanism on Space Debris Mitigation

Global Lunar Conference in Beijing, China: IISL Session

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 10 2010
Authors S. Li

S. Li

T. Kosuge

Y. Takeuchi
Article

Non-Cooperative Space Debris Mitigation

The Current Status of the Rule of Law with Regard to Space Activities

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 4 2010
Authors J.D. Rendleman

J.D. Rendleman
Article

Regulation of Space Debris: on the Way towards International Customary Law?

Nandasiri Jasentuliyana Keynote Lecture on Space Law & 1st Young Scholars Session

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 1 2009
Authors J. Nie

J. Nie
Article

Outer Space: Of the People, by the People and for the People

Peace in Space: Transparency and Confidence Building Measures

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 2 2009
Authors V. Leister

V. Leister
Article

Collision Course: 2009 Iridium-Cosmos Crash

Third Party Liability Issues in Commercial Space Activities

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 3 2009
Authors M. Mejía-Kaiser

M. Mejía-Kaiser
Article

Chinese Anti-Satellite Weapons: New Power Geometry - New Legal Policy?

The 40th Anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty and Other Legal Matters

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 5 2007
Authors S.A. Kaiser

S.A. Kaiser

V. Gopala Krishnan

M. Mejia-Kaiser

R. Kaul

T. Masson-Zwaan

M.C. Wholley
Article

The Future of Planetary Protection: Is There Reason for Optimism?

Other Legal Matters, Including the Relationship Between Government and Private Sector in Space Activities

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 6 2006
Authors P.M. Sterns and L. Tennen

P.M. Sterns

L. Tennen

Y. Zhao

M.M. Esquivel de Cocca
Article

Legal and Policy Issues Raised by the Proposed Notion of "Aerospace Object"

The Future Applications of the Outer Space Treaty

Journal International Institute of Space Law, Issue 4 1997
Authors S. Gorove

S. Gorove
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