Space Laws: An Analysis

Analysis of Space Laws

Author: Ms. Vaishali MalhotraKurukshetra University


The commencement of space exploration and rapid advancement unexpectedly created and highlighted off another field of law which is known as the law of outer space or the space law. Space law refers to that area of law which helped in helps in regulating activities in outer space related to the positive as well as adverse effects arising out of the actions of mankind. Space law is a separate field  of law for governing activities related to the space, which includes both international and national agreements. Space law is a body of law which provides rules, and principles regulating the activities of human beings . Focus area of Space law include exploration of space, liability for damage, usage of weapons, efforts of rescues, preservation of environment, upcoming technologies and unethical behaviour. Other specific fields of law are workable with space law such as administrative law, intellectual property law, arms control law, insurance law, environmental law, criminal law, and commercial law etc.

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.         Albert Einstein


In a real sense, it is very difficult to locate a unique and uniform definition for space law but there are some organizations that have given their perspective while defining the space law.

Federation Aeronautique International

According to Federation Aeronautique International

Space Law is the law that governs the Karman Line situated at an altitude of 100 km is regarded as the distinguishing factor between aeronautics and astronautics as far as the boundary is concerned

United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)

According to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) Space law is the “body of law applicable to and governing space-related activities.”

[1]In simple words, the space law has a very broad scope regarding the exploration of space, space tourism,  ownership of space, the militarization of space, environmental protection simple and distinguishing the boundaries of space itself.

III.Origin of Space Laws

The real origination of Space law begins with U.S. President named Dwight D. Eisenhower’s introduction of the concept of space laws in  United Nations in the year, 1957 which is related to the disarmament negotiations. Both the United States and Russia took successful in the development of international space policy. That International Space policy ensures the sovereignty of a particular nation to prevent our nation to claim any part of space plants over there dominion boundaries. In the year 1919 populist international law recognized every countries sovereignty to maintain peace and harmony. One of the successes was the world’s first artificial satellite which was launched by the Soviet Union in the year1957 which was” Sputnik “.

IV.Law governing Space

It can be understood by dividing it into two heads:-

  1. Law governing space at the International level.
  2. Law governing space at the National level (i.e., the law governing space in India).

V.Law at International level

Legislations that govern International Space laws are as followed: –

  • The Outer Space Treaty, 1967 

This Treaty came into effect in October 1967. This Treaty was signed by 103 countries and ratified by three countries that are mainly the UK, Russia, and US. This Treaty was enacted to govern and supervise all the actions and affairs of the member states of the treaty related to all celestial bodies, and moon.

  • The Rescue Agreement, 1968

This treaty came into force on 19 December 1968. This treaty was signed by 24 States and was ratified by 92 States along with two international that is The European Space Agency and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites accepted the rights and obligations conferred by the Treaty. The main objective of this treaty is to regulate the rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space.

  • The Liability Convention, 1972

This agreement came into force on 1st September 1972 for the regulation of

In total there are 22 States which have signed this agreement. The main objective of this convention is to govern International Liability for Damage Caused by Space.

  • Regulation Convention, 1975

This convention came into force on 15 September 1976. The signatories of this convention were Burundi, Iran, Nicaragua, and Singapore. This city was ratified by 63 States. The main aim of the enactment of this convention was to make proper procedures for the registration of objects which were launched into the outer space.

  • The Moon Treaty of 1979

This Treaty was enacted on July 11, 1984, and was ratified by 17 states. The main objective of the enactment of this Treaty is to regulate all the activities of States on the moon and other celestial bodies. This Treaty was a complete failure at that point in time because of the absence of USA and USSR names in the signatories list.

VI.Law at the national level that is within India

As we know, India’sspace market has been centralized with major investment by other countries. India’s space market has been under the highest scrutiny along with the control and managed by the eminent persons of all times. This scrutiny involves managerial activities performed directly by the Prime Minister’s office. Extreme and excessive control over India’s space market is a very appreciable attribute of our country. On the other hand, ISRO has made huge success in the field of space technology but also ISRO has shined India’s name in the world map as the major firing station and as a superpower.

Currently, India does not have specific promulgation in the field of law of space. There is an ultimate need for having space legislation for India. India is a progressive nation that wants to move further to privatize and commercialize space assets as well as expanding the capability of space exploration and scientific discoveries. expand and develop capability in space exploration and scientific discovery to make it more progressive in nature.

Now the major question arises :

  • Who regulates national laws in the field of space?
  • What are the provisions that provide prohibition against illegal activities related to space?

This section covered the above questions and answers in this section.

At National level the laws are regulated by the above mentioned treaties and convention for the international level as India does not have any particular legislation regulating the space laws therefore following legislations are there for the Governance of space laws in India:

  • The Outer Space Treaty of 1967,
  • The Rescue Agreement of 1968,
  • The Liability Convention of 1972,
  • The Registration Convention of 1975, and
  • The Moon Treaty of 1979


According to me, space law can be easily defined as a branch of law which is applicable and to regulate the activities related to the space. The law of space in that area of law which includes all the conduct of national and international nations in outer space. Currently, India does not have any specific legislation on the regulation of space-related activities. In present scenario the activities related to space is legally determined by the Constitution of India, 1950. Where is articles which are mentioned in the Constitution of India ,1950 have showed due respect for international law as Article 51 of Constitution of India, 1950 provides  state obligation to strive for the promotion of international peace and security. Various articles talks about the maintenance of just and reasonable relation between nations to maintain peace and harmony between the nations. Constitution of India, 1950 also have a due respect for international law and treaty obligation. Moreover, it also supports the settlement of international dispute by the way of arbitration.