What is the law of outer space?

No nation can claim ownership of outer space or any celestial body. Activities carried out in space must be governed by international law, and nations carrying out such activities must accept the responsibility of the governmental or non-governmental agency involved. space law can be described as the set of laws governing space-related activities. Space law, like general international law, encompasses a variety of international agreements, treaties, conventions and resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly, as well as rules and regulations of international organizations.

Space law is the body of laws that regulate objects and activities beyond the Earth's atmosphere. Initially, it emerged as a subset of public international law, which consisted mainly of treaties and soft law instruments governing the conduct of State actors. Over time, space law has expanded to include national laws and regulations promulgated by national governments, as well as private international law, which governs relations between non-State actors of different nationalities. Of the five international agreements mentioned above, the Outer Space Treaty (196), the Rescue Agreement (196), the Liability Convention (197) and the Registration Conventions (197) require substantial clarification in order to apply many of their principles to emerging space activities and issues, like satellites.

maintenance, space traffic management, tourism or space debris mitigation. For the time being, the Outer Space Treaty says that space and celestial bodies cannot be claimed by other nations, but it is not clear how these provisions would apply to private companies. For Australia, this is complicated by the fact that Australia is one of 18 States parties to the Moon Agreement, which reiterates the apparent prohibition of any assertion of property rights and adds a concept of outer space as a “common heritage of mankind”. In 1963, the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty was signed, followed by a resolution of the Outer Space Committee to ban the testing of nuclear weapons in space.

It is therefore not surprising that successful governance through the model of space law, legally binding and verifiable measures, has become impossible to achieve in the current international political climate. The Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) was established to support Governments in building legal, technical and political infrastructure to support global space activities. The topic of the legal delimitation between the upper limit of airspace and the lower limit of outer space has been on the agenda of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) since its establishment in 1957, but many States have resisted attempts to provide a definition. COPUOS and its 95 member States discuss topics such as the regulation of space debris, the extraction of space resources, the standardization of small satellites such as CubeSats, the nuclearization of outer space and the threats posed by asteroids and other types of space rocks, among other areas that require and space law with purpose.

In addition to helping states understand space law and develop their own national space policy in line with the established global governance framework, UNOOSA maintains a register of objects launched into outer space and plays an essential role in forming additional international organizations to address areas specific problems of spatial regulation. UNOOSA, UNCOPUOS and CD), non-State actors have played an increasingly influential role in the development of space law. For help with space law research, visit the research help page of the Georgetown Law Library website. This would include, for example, the inherent right to national self-defence, recognized in Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, and therefore military defensive activities in outer space would be lawful.

If you have questions about the related topic of aviation law, see the Law Library Aviation Law Research Guide. Article VIII of the Outer Space Treaty recognizes that the State of registry retains jurisdiction and control over the space object. For the current status of international agreements related to outer space activities, visit the U. .