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Space Law.
April 28, 2003 10:49 AM   Subscribe

Space Law. It hadn't even occurred to me that there was some, so I was interested to find the "Outer Space Treaty", which has also been generously translated for thickies and teachers .
posted by biffa (7 comments total)

 
Countries must tell everyone else if they find something in space which could harm any other astronauts.

Uh oh...
[Hastily tries to bury large lunar monolith]
posted by drinkcoffee at 10:58 AM on April 28, 2003


How often is article XII (the right to inspect other nations' spacecraft) actually invoked? During the Cold War, would the USSR have had the right to go poking around American spy satellites (or vice versa)?
posted by Johnny Assay at 11:27 AM on April 28, 2003


Article XII: All stations, installations, equipment and space vehicles on the Moon and other celestial bodies shall be open to representatives of other States Parties to the Treaty on a basis of reciprocity. Such representatives shall give reasonable advance notice of a projected visit, in order that appropriate consultations may be held and that maximum precautions may be taken to assure safety and to avoid interference with normal operations in the facility to be visited.

Sounds worded well enough to me that the US or USSR could wriggle out of any proposal to "inspect" a spy satellite. I think "basis of reciprocity" was the key there as well as the fact that they couldn't really visit them while they're up that would "interfere with normal operations", besides the Ruskies were always welcome to come tour Kennedy Space Center, Redstone Arsenal and the Air and Space Museum, just like the rest of the tourists.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:00 PM on April 28, 2003


Well this bites. We're not even up there yet and the government's already telling us what we can and can't do once we get there. Is this why space exploration has yet to successfully go to the private sector? Cuz all the space laws make it economically unviable (i.e. too complicated) to do so?
posted by ZachsMind at 2:29 PM on April 28, 2003


How often is article XII actually invoked?

? and what would the u.n. have done during the cold war if a member of the security council refused such an absurd, impossible-to-accept request? nothing, of course

space law is an interesting little pocket of speculation [contrast with say, the insanity of biotech law]. best book on the subject is called Envoys of Mankind: A Declaration of First Principles for the Governance of Space Societies. there's quite a bit in it about the importance of meta-law so it should be required reading around here.

Well this bites. We're not even up there yet and the government's already telling us what we can and can't do once we get there. Is this why space exploration has yet to successfully go to the private sector? Cuz all the space laws make it economically unviable (i.e. too complicated) to do so?

hardly! space law is mostly the demesne of big-eyed law professors. everybody knows the whole point of manned space exploration is not a nice return on capital invested in moon mining or studying the globulification effects of zero-g sex but to get away from earth jurisdiction / approach the promised land, pilgrim-stylee. thus, space law is typically A) giving reassuring frameworks so we can convince governments to get involved when they are afraid [rightly] that colonies will be autonomous at will, and B) a sort of sub-set of u.n.-type or declaration of independance-type utopia-building so that if it happens there's a chance that it's done right.
posted by mitchel at 2:45 PM on April 28, 2003


*gives Mitchel a bemused look*

I stand corrected.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:18 PM on April 28, 2003


Jim Lovell mentioned in his book, Lost Moon, several things about the treaty:
- it was written because diplomats had to write something down (show "cooperation")
- the astronauts' main concern was the provision related to their safety, not to be treated as POW or spies if they land in URSS by mistake ("astronauts shall be regarded as the envoys of mankind")
posted by MzB at 8:45 PM on April 28, 2003


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