Space Law


Space law is a relatively new branch of law, roughly starting in 1957 with the launch of the Sputnik I, the first satellite in space. Space law consists of international space law, governing the activities of States and international intergovernmental organizations, and national space law, governing the activities of individual countries and their nationals. Advancing technology and scientific progress extend human activities in space more and more. These developments will require new regulations of business activities, space tourism, traffic rules, the problem of dangerous space debris, rescue missions, contracts for mining expeditions, property rights on celestial bodies and encounters with alien entities.

Jakhu, R.S., Freeland, S. and Chen, K., "The Sources of International Space Law: Revisited", Zeitschrift für Luft- und Weltraumrecht = German journal of air and space law, 67 (2018), No. 4, pp. 606-667.

This Research Guide is intended as a starting point for research on Air and Space Law. It provides the basic legal materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section. Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library's systematic classification → Public international law and subject heading (keyword) Space Law are instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest.

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  • Lyall, F. and Larsen, P.B., Space Law: a Treatise, Abingdon, Oxon, Routledge, 2018.

    Lyall, F. and Larsen, P.B., Space Law: a Treatise, Abingdon, Oxon, Routledge, 2018.

    Francis Lyall and Paul B. Larsen have been involved in teaching and researching space law for over 50 years. This new edition of their well-received text gathers together their knowledge and experience in readable form, and covers developments in all space applications, including space tourism, telecommunications, the ITU and finance. With an extensive citation of the literature, the discussion provides an excellent source for both students and practitioner.

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  • Froehlich, A., (ed.), A Fresh View on the Outer Space Treaty, Cham, Springer, 2018.

    Froehlich - a fresh view on the outer space treaty

    On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty this book gives a first insight into where the next generation considers room for further improvement of the Outer Space Treaty in order to cope with upcoming aspects such as providing solutions for the emerging commercial, economic, environmental and social questions. At the time of the adoption of the Outer Space Treaty in 1967 the purpose of this treaty was to avoid conflicting military situations in space. However, 50 years later the Outer Space Treaty is in demand to meet the ever increasing space activities and the different actors involved such as the rise of the private sector players.

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  • Stubbe, P., State Accountability for Space Debris: a Legal Study of Responsibility for Polluting the Space Environment and Liability for Damage caused by Space Debris, Leiden, Boston, Brill Nijhoff, 2018.

    Stubbe, P., State Accountability for Space Debris: a legal Study of Responsibility for Polluting the Space Environment and Liability for Damage caused by Space Debris, Leiden, Boston, Brill Nijhoff, 2018.

    In State Accountability for Space Debris Peter Stubbe examines the legal consequences of space debris pollution which, he argues, is a global environmental concern. The study finds that the customary ‘no harm’ rule and Article IX of the Outer Space Treaty obligate States to prevent the generation of debris and that the international community as a whole has a legitimate interest in their compliance. A breach of these obligations entails the responsibility of a State and compensation must be provided for damage caused by space debris. The author treats responsibility and liability separately and thoroughly scrutinizes both legal regimes with the help of common analytical elements. Finally, Peter Stubbe argues that a comprehensive traffic management system is required so as to ensure the safe and sustainable use of outer space.

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  • Satellite Data in International Law

    The use of data acquired through earth observation satellites has become commonplace. The use of satellite data has even expanded as an extremely useful tool to implement international law since it provides factual, relevant and up-to-date information. Further technological developments will steadily increase the range of data which can be collected through Earth Observation and further enhance its accuracy. Therefore, satellite data can be used to monitor compliance with obligations contained within international agreements or to resolve disputes before an international court.

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  • Space Mining and (U.S.) Space Law

    On November 25, 2015, President Obama signed into law the US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (H.R. 2262). As far as space mining is concerned, this legislation will give US space firms the rights to own and sell natural resources they mine from bodies in space, including asteroids. But does the new law risk privatizing a realm that is meant to belong to all of humanity? Is there a violation of international law? Is an international space exploitation regime preferable?

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  • Asteroid(s) coming in at Collision Course

    How to handle an incoming asteroid? What does Don Quijote have to do with it? Movies like “Deep Impact” and “Armageddon” make it seem so easy. But in reality there are many technological, legal and political obstacles to cope with. From 15-19 April, 2013, the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) will hold its third Planetary Defence Conference “Gathering for Impact!” in Flagstaff, Arizona, USA.

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