Law, College of


Date of this Version



Published in Space Policy (2001) 17: 265-274. Copyright 2001, Elsevier. Used by permission.


The growth of low- and medium-Earth orbit mobile satellite communications poses a threat to radio astronomers which could be mitigated by the establishment of international radio quiet zones (IRQZs), where communications traffic is managed (not eliminated) to allow radio astronomy to continue. Using the prototype of national such zones in the USA, this article explains how the system would work and discusses the international legal parameters that would bound it, drawing on current aerospace, outer space and high seas legislation. Precedents for an IRQZ—Exclusive Economic Zones, denuclearized zones and the Antarctic regime—are also examined.