Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Space lawyer: Before humans step into commercial spaceflight, laws need giant leap

Date:
May 22, 2012
Source:
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Summary:
SpaceX’s launch to the International Space Station opens a new era in commercial spaceflight -- and raises questions about what laws govern private space companies and what legal obstacles affect future human space travel.

SpaceX's Tuesday launch of its Dragon capsule atop its Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station opens a new era in commercial spaceflight. It also raises a new round of questions about what laws govern private space companies and what legal obstacles may affect future human space travel, a space law expert said.

Related Articles


If commercial space carriers' shuttling of supplies to the ISS, as with Dragon, evolves into the ferrying of astronauts and other human passengers into space, then a new set of legal issues will emerge, said Frans von der Dunk, professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Law and an international leader in the field of space law.

"For a commercial vendor, bringing cargo to the International Space Station is relatively simple if it's correctly arranged and includes the involvement of the partners in the ISS venture, if appropriate," von der Dunk said. "However, the next step already looms."

That phase involves human cargo, he said. In our post-Space Shuttle world, only Russia currently has the capability to bring humans to the station and back, which likely will bring rapid rise to commercial space companies with plans to transport astronauts to the ISS.

Von der Dunk said that practice would raise a whole new set of legal concerns, including the legal status of the craft, crew and passengers; issues of third-party liability; and the limit of validity in a courtroom of operators' "informed consent" protection.

Currently under FAA regulations, commercial space operators are allowed to operate without properly certified craft and as long as their passengers fly under a simple "informed consent" regime that basically waives liability towards such passengers, he said. "But if NASA is going to let SpaceX fly its astronauts, is it going to accept such informed consent?" von der Dunk asked. "That's doubtful."

As long as "informed consent" is not defined in greater detail, he said, it will raise legal concerns regarding technology transfer under International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITARs), which control the export and import of defense-related articles and services. This could be relevant if, for example, a non-U.S. passenger is instructed to comply with informed consent on the technological safety features and history of the commercial craft.

Questions also persist about how the current "informed consent" legal framework would hold up in court against actions such as gross negligence or willful misconduct, he said. Von der Dunk said determining, in much greater detail, what "informed consent" means in space cases will be essential to answering many of the issues.

Finally, von der Dunk called for substantial international consultations on the activity, owing to the enterprises around the globe that are readying commercial space initiatives. He noted that Virgin Galactic has plans to launch similar flights from variousother places on Earth such as Sweden, Space Adventures from Singapore and the United Arab Emirates, and XCOR is teaming up with SXC to fly from Curaηao, he said.

"While moving from cargo to manned ISS services may seem a small step for business, it requires a major leap for the space lawyers," von der Dunk said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Nebraska-Lincoln. "Space lawyer: Before humans step into commercial spaceflight, laws need giant leap." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120522134724.htm>.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln. (2012, May 22). Space lawyer: Before humans step into commercial spaceflight, laws need giant leap. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120522134724.htm
University of Nebraska-Lincoln. "Space lawyer: Before humans step into commercial spaceflight, laws need giant leap." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120522134724.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Spokesman: 'NORAD Ready to Track Santa'

Spokesman: 'NORAD Ready to Track Santa'

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) — Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said that NORAD is ready to track Santa Claus as he delivers gifts next week. Speaking tongue-in-cheek, he said if Santa drops anything off his sleigh, "we've got destroyers out there to pick them up." (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's Planet-Finding Kepler Mission Isn't Over After All

NASA's Planet-Finding Kepler Mission Isn't Over After All

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — More than a year after NASA declared the Kepler spacecraft broken beyond repair, scientists have figured out how to continue getting useful data. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) — NASA's Curiosity rover detected methane on Mars and organic compounds on the surface, but it doesn't quite prove there was life ... yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Evidence of Life on Mars? NASA Rover Finds Methane, Organic Chemicals

Evidence of Life on Mars? NASA Rover Finds Methane, Organic Chemicals

Reuters - US Online Video (Dec. 16, 2014) — NASA's Mars Curiosity rover finds methane in the Martian atmosphere and organic chemicals in the planet's soil, the latest hint that Mars was once suitable for microbial life. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins