Chapter 11: Legal aspects of public manned spaceflight and space station operations
Despite experience with space stations being been fairly limited to only two space stations having been operational for a more than a few weeks, namely the Soviet/Russian Mir and the International Space Station (ISS), and experience with an international space station limited even further to only the ISS, this experience has given and continues to give rise to a distinct evolving body of legal rules and principles. Special issues concerning the applicability of such generic issues as jurisdiction, the status of astronauts and liability as arising from the space treaties, in particular the Intergovernmental Agreement underlying the ISS and the various Memoranda of Understanding, internal ESA arrangements and other bilateral or single-state implementing regulations constitute very interesting new features of space law. The IGA, for example, provides for unique legal solutions to intellectual property rights jurisdiction, in particular with a view to European participation, and criminal jurisdiction, following on from a US–Russian compromise. In addition, an extended inter-party waiver of liability and the fundamental application of the concept of time-sharing in terms of usage of the manned facilities part of the ISS are noteworthy. _ The importance of these legal discussions lies not only in the present, but extends into the future, with a view to plans for ever more extended human presence in outer space, including possible colonization of the moon, asteroids or planets, whereby the same fundamental legal issues of jurisdiction, status of ‘territory’ of astronauts, and liability issues respectively will arise and have to be addressed.
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