We, humans, are exploring outer space for decades and to minimize the possible misfortunes some laws and treaties have enforced from time to time. What is the main intention of these Laws regarding Space Activities? Since Space has no owner it can be considered as a property that belongs to everyone. So, there was a special requirement to maintain peace among the nations while progressing the outer space Exploration.
Let’s take a look at a few of these interesting laws in space.
There are five main treaties known as “Five United Nations treaties on outer space” the earliest one out of all is the Outer Space Treaty adopted by the General assembly in its resolution 2222 (XXI) which was open for signature from 27th January 1967 entered into force on 10th of October 1967. This treaty is on the principles that govern the activities of states in the exploration and use of outer space including the moon and other celestial bodies. 105 countries have States parties to the treaty and another 26 countries have signed it but have not completed ratification. The Treaty bans the stationing of weapons of mass destruction on outer space prohibits military activities on celestial bodies and details legally binding rules governing the peaceful exploration and use of space.
The Soviet Union and the United States had submitted separate drafts for the outer space treaty to the united nation general assembly in June 1966. Mutually agreed treaty drafted over six months and the UN General assembly gave its approval to the Treaty on December 19 in 1966.
The agreement on the rescue of astronauts, the return of astronauts and the return of objects launched into outer space or The Rescue Agreement is another treaty which was enforced to systemize the process of rescuing the astronauts and make sure the safe return of astronauts and return of objects launched into outer space. This treaty had opened for signature in Washington London and Moscow on April 22nd of 1968. The rescue at an agreement is related to the outer space Treaty. To be honest this has never been applied with the accidents or distress of astronauts but only for recovering and returning of space objects. This treaty will govern space tourism in the future too.
There is another important treaty called the convention on international liability for damage caused by space objects, also known as The Liability Convention. This was adopted by the General assembly in its resolution 2777 (XXVI) open for signature on 29th of march 1972 entered into force on 1st of September 1972. The Treaty is recognizing the common interest of all mankind in furthering the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. The liability convention is enforced believing that the establishment of such rules and procedures will contribute to the strengthening of international cooperation in the field of the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. According to its first article the term ‘damage’ means loss of life, personal injury or other impairment of health; or loss of or damage to property of the state or of persons, natural or judicial, or property of international intergovernmental organisations. The term launching includes even the attempts of launching. The term, ‘space object’ also includes component parts of space objects as well as its launch vehicle and parts thereof.
The next is a convention on registration of objects launched into outer space or The Registration Convention. This was adopted by the General assembly in its resolution 3235 (XXIX) and opened for signature on 14th January 1975, entered into force on 15th of September 1976. According to the article ii of the convention, when a space object is turned into orbit or beyond, the launches date shall register the space object by means of an entry in an appropriate registry which it shall maintain. each launching state shall inform the secretary-general of the united nations of the establishment of such a registry. where there are two or more launching States in respect of such space objects, they shall jointly determine which one of them shall register the object in accordance with the said article. The content of each registry and the condition under which it is maintained shall be determined by the State of the registry. The secretary-general of the United Nations shall maintain a register in which the information furnished in accordance with the convention.
The agreement governing the activities of States on the moon and other celestial bodies or The Moon Agreement is another interesting convention to learn about. This treaty was adopted by the General assembly in its resolution 34/68 and opened for signature on 18th December 1979. It entered into force on 11th July 1984. The Agreement reaffirms and elaborates on many of the provisions of the Outer Space Treaty as applied to the Moon and other celestial bodies, providing that those bodies should be used exclusively for peaceful purposes. And their environments should not be disrupted, that the United Nations should be informed of the location and purpose of any station established on those bodies. The Moon Agreement provides that the Moon and its natural resources are the common heritage of mankind and that an international regime should be established to govern the exploitation of such resources when such exploitation is about to become achievable. The 1979 Moon Agreement applies to the Moon and all other celestial bodies within the Solar System other than the Earth, including orbits or other trajectories to or around them. But we should bear in mind that The United States, the Russian Federation (former the Soviet Union), and the People’s Republic of China have neither signed the Moon Treaty.
However, it seems that these types of conventions can be work as Guidance to Space exploration. But Some people might point out that Space law cannot enact only from earth beings point of view but also should get the ideas from Aliens. Hopefully, in the future, there might be conventions that govern different species from different galaxies.