Space Law also known as The Law of Outer Space is a field of International Public Law concerned with human activities beyond the atmosphere of the Earth and with the nature and establishment of mutually agreed norms for those activities. In practice, Space Law is primarily made up of those treaties and declarations of principle approved through the United Nations system, specifically by the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) and adopted by UN resolutions.
Some countries, including the United States and Germany have national legislation referring to outer space activities. In these cases, one may refer to the legislation as national space law. National laws concerning outer space will usually build upon the International Law of Outer Space, but may also be in direct conflict with it.
Outer Space as a Legal Jurisdiction
According to existing international law (largely treaties approved by the United Nations), the space outside of the Earth's atmosphere is Res Communis, meaning that it belongs to all of humanity and that every nation must have equal access to it. In accordance with this legal regime, no country, organization or individual can claim private ownership to any part of outer space. However, countries or organizations that send man-made objects into outer space still retain ownership and jurisdiction over these objects and over any personnel on board.
History and Development of Space Law
International Space Law dates back to the commencement of human activities in outer space. Its development has largely followed the expansion of these activities and changed as more states have become space-faring nations.
- Treaty-making Bodies
- Organizations of Experts in Space Law