Date of this Version
It is barely five years ago since the first space tourist proper, Mr. Dennis Tito, made his much-publicised 20 million-dollar flight to the ISS. And now, purportedly thousands of prospective customers are lining up with such nascent companies as Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, for a 200,000-dollar, few-minute flight into the nearest part of outer space. In other words: it looks like space tourism is here to stay.
This obviously raises a number of key legal issues, stretching from proper application of such international space treaties as the Liability and Registration Conventions to national legal issues pertaining to liabilities, licensing and certification, and civil and criminal jurisdiction and control. The present paper seeks to offer an overview of some of these, the most salient legal issues as they are on the table right now, keeping in mind the need to maintain a fair balance between the interests of private enterprise and of the public at large - nationally as well as internationally - respectively.