What laws exist in space?

Sovereignty in space is not claimed; no nation can “own” space, the Moon, or any other body. Weapons of mass destruction are prohibited in orbit and beyond, and the Moon, planets and other heavenly bodies can only be used for peaceful purposes. Space law can be described as the set of laws that govern space-related activities. Space law, like general international law, encompasses a variety of agreements, treaties, conventions and resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly, as well as rules and regulations of international organizations.

This would include, for example, the inherent right to legitimate national defense, recognized in Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, and therefore defensive military activities in outer space would be legal. Space law also seeks to provide a framework for the resolution of disputes relating to issues that arise in space. Clarifies and reaffirms that existing laws are relevant and applicable to accommodate new activities and applications. With the increase in the number of commercial and private space operators, countries are adopting national space laws to regulate and supervise the manner in which all national space activities are carried out in accordance with international law.

However, it is considered clear that international space law applies to objects in orbit and beyond, which applies to objects that can be described as “space objects”, including rockets, at least from the moment of “intentional ignition”, applies to astronauts and applies to any conduct that can be described as a “national activity in outer space”. At Caltech, in 1942, Theodore von Kármán and other rocket scientists teamed up to form the rocket company Aerojet with the help of attorney Andrew G. Jakhu, the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to the Military Uses of Outer Space (MILAMOS Project), whose objective is to clarify the existing rules of international law as they apply to the military uses of outer space. So Watney has to seize the ship, an action that will technically make him a pirate under international law.

While other States may have laws and carry out activities that have any impact on the space object, those laws and activities would be invalid or illegal, respectively, insofar as they amount to controlling the space object. These laws impose restrictions on irresponsible and dangerous actions and address new challenges in outer space. They point to the McGill Manual, written by institutions around the world, which describes 52 rules that clarify space laws. The origins of space law date back to 1919, when international law recognized the sovereignty of each country over airspace directly over its territory, which was later reinforced by the Chicago Convention in 1944.Jakhu, senior professor and former director of the Institute of Air and Space Law at McGill University, and Steven Freeland, professor emeritus of International Law at the University of Western Sydney.

To this end, for the past six years, McGill University and a number of collaborating institutions from around the world have been involved in drafting the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to the Military Uses of Outer Space. Space law is the set of laws that govern space-related activities and encompasses national and international agreements, norms and principles. The McGill Institute for Air and Space Law directs multiple international collaborative projects to help clarify international space law and promote a rules-based world order. .

Jeannie Eschenbrenner
Jeannie Eschenbrenner

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