Date of this Version
Zeitschrift für Luft- und Weltraumrecht, vol. 62, 2013, pp. 740-756
One of the more advanced projects to offer private commercial spaceflights concerns Curaçao, the Dutch island in the Caribbean, from where Space Expedition Corporation (SXC) aims to start launching such flights as of 2014 with vehicles to be developed by XCOR. Not only is the island still part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, albeit as of recently as an autonomous “Land,” SXC is a company with its origins in the Netherlands, too. On the other hand, XCOR, which is going to wet lease its vehicles to SXC, is a US company, and its operations consequently will—to the extent applicable—(also) be licensed by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Curaçao is currently in the process of developing appropriate framework legislation for the purpose, in order inter alia to appropriately implement the relevant international legal obligations as well as protect applicable public interests in this specific context. Moreover, for the above reasons such legislation will likely mix the Dutch and US approaches to licensing, authorizing, and monitoring the commercial spaceflights at issue.
The present paper analyzes in some detail the various international, US and Dutch legal interests interacting in this context, and how Curaçao legislation would best guard all those public interests while not unnecessarily burdening SXC and/or XCOR with administrative or other obstacles to a safe and potentially profitable business operation.