By January 29, 2020 Read More →

Who takes responsibility for incidents occurring in space?

The global space industry is projected to generate over $1 trillion in revenue over the next two decades, including revenue from the development, launch and operation of satellites. Increased activity in recent years, including more launches of satellites by a larger number of operators, has both reflected and attracted substantial new investment. The increased volume of launches, however, also brings increased risks of damage to spacecraft, both during launch and while in orbit.

The opportunity for profit in the “new space race” will be shaped by the industry’s ability to manage these risks. Given the number and amount of recent losses, the insurance market may not be fully able to absorb space risk and protect investors. The current international legal regime, which was adopted in the early 1970s before the proliferation of privately launched satellites, also provides no certainty.

Updated national laws can help clarify and limit risks, but their usefulness is limited by the multinational character of the space industry and the absence of national boundaries in space. Ultimately, cooperation among states to develop new international law rules governing responsibility for incidents in space will be important to provide certainty and clarity to the space industry and its investors.

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