Law, College of


Date of this Version



Published by von der Dunk in Proceedings of the Forty-Eighth Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space 251-261 (1995). Copyright 1995, F.G. von der Dunk. Used by permission.


Increasing private participation in space activities is one of the most farreaching developments relevant for international space law today. The most comprehensive consequence of such private participation in a legal sense is in fact the necessity to establish a national space legislation of some kind, in view of the international obligations arising under responsibility and liability for the state relative to the consequences of these private activities. The rather recent addition in 1993 of two states, the Russian Federation and the Republic of South Africa, to the previously existing number of three states (the United States, Sweden and the United Kingdom) in possession of national space legislation is therefore clear proof of the aforementioned development.

The paper will try to provide a summary description of the two pieces of national space legislation from the perspective of international space law. After a short introduction to the domestic circumstances in which the legislations have been established, analysis will focus therefore on the manner in which the two national space laws actually operate in elaboration of international responsibility and international liability for space activities. Reference will be had in this respect primarily to the respective scope of the two laws, both with regard to the activities concerned and with regard to the entities concerned. Furthermore, with an eye to the three older national space laws, the measure of inclusion or absence of a licensing system, with related problems of derogation of liability and insurance obligations, will be discussed. Also, the extent to which a few fundamental obligations found in the international space treaties, such as those related to peaceful uses of space and environmental issues, are reflected in the two laws will be evaluated.

By means of the resulting conclusions, a summary evaluation may be made of the two respective national space laws, and the way in which they deal with the general problem of containing the risks inherent in private involvement in space activities by juridical means, that is by binding private entities to the
international obligations of space law.