Do laws still apply in space?

Activities carried out in space must comply with international law and nations that carry out such activities must accept the responsibility of the governmental or non-governmental agency involved. Objects launched into space are subject to their nation of origin, including people. Activities in space are governed by the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which has currently been ratified by 111 nations. The treaty was negotiated in the shadow of the Cold War, when there were only two nations: the Soviet Union and the United States.

There are five international treaties that support space law, supervised by the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS). From testing destructive missiles to failing to meet a tax deadline for a last-minute mission, this is how space law has been tested until now. In 1967, more than 100 countries signed the Outer Space Treaty, basically the Magna Carta of space law. Despite the popular conception of space as an illegal border, it turns out that you are still indebted to the authorities when you leave Earth.

Hanlon is president of the National Space Society, co-director of the Center for Air and Space Law at the University of Mississippi School of Law, president and co-founder of For All Moonkind and a partner of ABH Space Law. On June 23, Canadian lawmakers passed a law that would allow the government to charge Canadian astronauts with crimes committed on the Moon. That's why Congress passed a law in November 1969 stating that the Apollo 11 mission, placing a flag on the Moon, was a symbolic gesture of national pride in its achievements, and not that the United States would claim it. However, as space becomes increasingly accessible, illegal behaviors that regularly occur on Earth are likely to accompany humans as they take off into the cosmos.

Jeannie Eschenbrenner
Jeannie Eschenbrenner

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