This page considers outer space as a point of reference
for understanding cyberspace.
It covers -
The air and outer space have been portrayed as paradigms
for cyberspace - areas of excitement (and boredom), commercial
opportunity, political opportunism, danger, international
conflict and global rulemaking of varying effectiveness.
US presidential candidate John F. Kennedy proclaimed in
stand at the edge of a New Frontier - the frontier of
unfulfilled hopes and dreams. It will deal with unsolved
problems of peace and war, unconquered pockets of ignorance
and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus.
Unreal Estate - The Men who Sold the Moon (New
York: Lulu Press 2006) by Virgiliu Pop, Space: The
Free-Market Frontier (Washington: Cato Institute
2002) edited by Edward Hudgins, Making Space Happen:
Private Space Ventures and the Visionaries Behind Them
(Medford: Medford Press 2002) by Paula Berinstein. Cautions
are provided in NASA and the Space Industry (Baltimore:
Johns Hopkins Uni Press 2000) by Joan Lisa Bromberg
The emergence of space law provides a model for the
development of the 'law of cyberspace' because it has
accommodated expectations about behaviour, commercial
relationships, the role of the state, alternative dispute
resolution mechanisms and questions of jurisdiction.
Examples of questions that have been successfully addressed
is the legal framework for activity in space, ie beyond
the jurisdiction of a particular nation and potentially
involving participants from several countries?
owns outer space (with some Pacific states, for example,
ambitiously seeking a rent from satellite owners whose
'birds' are parked in orbit in 'their' bit of space?
is the legal framework for 'sales' of Lunar real estate
international treaties are -
Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere,
in Outer Space, and Under Water (Nuclear Test Ban
Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of
States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including
the Moon and other Celestial Bodies ('Outer Space
Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return
of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into
Outer Space ('Rescue Agreement')
Convention on International Liability for Damage
Caused by Space Objects ('Liability Convention')
1975 Convention on Registration of Objects Launched
into Outer Space ('Registration Convention')
Agreement Governing the Activities of States on
the Moon and other Celestial Bodies ('Moon Agreement').
treaties are co-exist with a range of bilateral and multilateral
agreements, along with UN General Assembly declarations
and resolutions such as the 1963 Declaration of Legal
Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration
and Uses of Outer Space and 1992 Principles Relevant
to the Use of Nuclear Power Sources in Outer Space.
The Outer Space Treaty provides that states are internationally
responsible for "national activities" in outer
space irrespective of whether conducted by governmental
agencies or non-governmental entities. National governments
are obligated to authorise and supervise the activities
of non-governmental entities. If a 'space object' such
as a satellite is registered in a state, that nation retains
jurisdiction and control over that object (using the maritime
law model) and is responsible for any damage caused by
The Treaty charmingly prohibits launching nuclear weapons
and other weapons of mass destruction in outer space.
It also identifies a duty not to interfere detrimentally
with the interests of other States in exploration and
use of outer space.
The 1968 Rescue Agreement obliges states to inform the
launching authority and UN Secretary-General if the personnel
of another nation's spacecraft make an emergency landing
in its jurisdiction or are discovered to have "suffered
accident or are experiencing conditions of distress".
Signatories must render all necessary assistance to those
personnel. States discovering space objects that have
returned to Earth must inform the relevant nation and
UN Secretary-General, and must assist in "practical
steps" to recover a returned space object or component
The Liability Convention imposes a liability for damage
in the form of "loss of life, personal injury or
other impairment of health, or loss or damage to property
of States or of persons, natural or juridical, or property
of international governmental organisations". That
liability is imposed on a "launching State".
The Registration Convention obliges signatories to register
all space objects for which they are responsible and inform
the UN Secretary-General about every space object in the
registry. That information should include identification
of the launching state, a designator or registration number,
date and location of launch, the general function of trhe
object and basic orbital parameters such as inclination,
apogee and perigee.
The 1979 Moon Agreement - so far ratified by a handful
of states such as Australia, Belgium, Chile, Kazakhstan
and Morocco - seeks to extend international law to activities
on the Moon and other celestial bodies. 'Offworld' real
estate is not to be subject to national appropriation
by a claim of sovereignty, celestial bodies are to be
used exclusively for peaceful purposes (with freedom of
access to the Moon for scientific purposes) and activities
disrupting the lunar environment are prohibited.
The Agreement proclaims that use of celestial bodies "shall
be carried out for the benefit and in the interest of
all countries, irrespective of the degree of economic
or scientific development", with "the Moon and
its natural resources" being "the common heritage
of mankind". Special consideration will be given
to "an equitable sharing" in the benefits derived
from those resources.
Studies include Space Law In The United Nations,
Publishers (Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff 1985) by Marietta
Benko & Willem de Graaff, An Introduction to Space
Law (Boston: Kluwer 1993) by Isabella Diederiks-Verschoor,
Space transportation liability: national and international
aspects (London: Kluwer Law 1997) by R. Bender, Space
Law, past, present and future (London: Kluwer 1991)
by Carl Christol, The Law and Policy of air space
and outer space: A Comparative Approach (London:
Kluwer Law 2003) by Peter Haanappel and American Space
Law: International & Domestic (Ames: Iowa State
Uni Press 1988) by Nathan Goldman.
The Space Activities Act 1998 (SAA)
seeks to regulate space activities conducted in Australia
(or by Australian nationals outside Australia) and to
implement obligations under the UN space treaties, particularly
those regarding registration of space objects and liability.
The Act cover regulation of launch facility operation,
space object launching and the return of space objects.
It requires that anyone operating a launching facility
in Australia gain a space licence for each kind of launch
vehicle. A launch permit or an exemption certificate is
required to launch a space object from a facility located
in Australia (an overseas launch certificate is required
from Australian nationals to launch a space object from
a facility located outside Australia). Authorisation is
also required for the return of any space object, whether
launched from overseas or from Australia.
For international frameworks see the United Nations Office
of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)
and European Centre for Space Law (ECSL)
(impacts and indicators)