Law, College of


Date of this Version



Published in the Journal of Space Law (2008) 34: 411-434. Copyright 2008, University of Mississippi School of Law. Used by permission.


Forty years ago, the Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space, was put into place as the second treaty on outer space drafted by the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). The Rescue Agreement followed on the heels of the "Outer Space Treaty," and in turn was followed by the "Liability Convention" the "Registration Convention" and the "Moon Agreement," before political developments made COPUOS reluctant to draft any further treaties on space. The Rescue Agreement has attracted much less attention than the other four UN-based treaties. The implications and implementation of the agreement are discussed and its history is recounted, and the agreement is considered in light of the prospect of space tourism.