Date of this Version
Out of the many historical political events of the last few years, in terms of outer space and outer space law the final demise of the Soviet Union in December 1991 no doubt was the most important. One of the two superpowers in space disappeared as a state never to return. The fifteen republics formerly comprising the Soviet Union entered the international community of states more or less in its stead, eleven of them willing - so far - to remain together within a framework for cooperation ominously named "Commonwealth of Independent States".
As to outer space, nine of those eleven states within a week of the final demise of the Soviet Union concluded the Minsk Space Agreement. The Agreement was in force instantly, which is rather unique and points to the importance attached by the states involved to continuation in principle of conducting space activities together. It is in the framework of this Agreement that the future of the space program of the former Soviet Union is to be analyzed in legal terms, both as to programs already in operation, as to programs which are really only in a phase of development. In this respect comparisons with the European Space Agency have indeed already been made.
Furthermore, as one of the key-elements in the historical events concerning the Soviet Union consists of the transfer to a sort of capitalist society, a glance at the role private enterprise is supposed to play and is allowed to play under the Minsk Space Agreement is in point. Once again, the European Space Agency may provide an interesting example. Thus, some light might be shed on the question as to whether the former Soviet Union will witness the development or creation of a European Space Agency, Mark II, or a fundamentally different legal framework for space activities.