Forget about the physics of space or the laws of non-gravity. We are talking about the fact that human laws have already begun to take shape in space. Over the years, people, animals and spacecrafts went into space to discover the vast universe and to fully understand how it works. But since humans visit often the cosmos, a law (or laws) should be introduced to avoid nations waging a war on each other over an uninhabitable piece of land, say on Mars; hence, the legalities of outer space were defined.
The Legalities Of Outer Space
As part of the legalities of outer space, the international community came up with rules on space probes and laws that will prevent the cosmos from becoming the Wild West. The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) was formed and the space law was enforced. The role of UNOOSA is to promote a peaceful exploration of the outer space among the nations. Treaties and agreements were also ratified, which would regulate and oversee the activities in the Milky Way and beyond.
The laws in outer space were used in compensation for accidents back in the late 1970s. A satellite of the defunct Soviet Union smashed into some parts of northern Canada. To make it worse, the satellite had a radioactive material. The wreckage of the spacecraft brought about millions of dollars in damage. This is when the lawyers are required, specifically Canadian space lawyers, to do an assessment of the affected areas. Through the Liability Convention, the government filed a claim for an indemnity amounting to $6 million. Both parties reached an agreement and the Soviet Union agreed to settle for $3 million.
Limitations of Space Law
Just like any law that governs the land, the legalities of outer space have limitations. There are certain issues that the existing space law cannot fully address. For instance, the commercialisation of human spaceflights. Some companies are now in the process of launching suborbital space flights. And in a few years, it is expected that these companies will be able to transport passengers in orbital space flights. The itinerary may include the International Space Station and privately operated space domains.
The major challenge about commercial human space flights is safety. What are the safety criteria in allowing spacecrafts to go into space? Who will issue such license? In the event of accidents, what are the insurance requirements? How to enforce liability waivers? Questions like these are not bounded by the space law.