Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects

From: Jonathan T Wojack (
Date: Fri Jun 01 2001 - 15:18:48 PDT

  • Next message: Alan Pickup: "Decay watch: 2001 June 1"

    > It is noteworthy that there exists a Convention on International
    > Liability for Damage Caused by Space Object prepared under the 
    > auspices
    > of U.N.O., which was signed and/or ratified by many countries, 
    > including
    > e.g. Russian Federation, U.S.A, China, France and other "space 
    > powers".
    > The liability is derived from the ownership of a space object, 
    > causing
    > the damage. Therefore the question about ownership (also for
    > non-functional objects as launcher stages) is in this sense very
    > important. 
    I read the convention last night.  Very interesting.  I have the
    following questions:
    1)  Is the convention still international law?
    2)  Have any ammendments been added to it?
    If the answer to # 1 is "yes", and if the answer to #2 is "no", then I
    submit that this is an impressive piece of legislature for the time
    (1972), but it has a major flaw.  Unless I am misunderstanding it, once a
    nation launches an object, it is responsible for that object as long as
    the object and that nation continue to exist - no matter what.  So, if
    Russia had sold Mir to China before that great space station's demise,
    and if China deliberately crashed Mir onto U.S. land, then Russia would
    be responsible, according to the convention - even if Russia did nothing
    but sell it to the Chinese.
    Do anyone see what I'm getting at - does anyone else see the flaw that I
    do?  The convention does not take into account the fact that space
    objects can be bought and sold after launch.  Ugly incidents can result. 
    I propose that an ammendment be added to the convention.
    Does anyone have any thoughts on this?
    (It's probably best to reply to me off-list, since this is off-topic)
    > The text of the Convention can be found at URL:
    > Full list of countries adhering to that (and other) Convention can 
    > be
    > found on that site also (in pdf format).
    Jonathan T. Wojack       
    39.706d N   75.683d W            
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    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Jun 01 2001 - 15:20:55 PDT