Friday, April 03, 2009

Space Access 2009 - James Dunstan, on Orbital Debris Law

James Dunstan is a lawyer. Orbital Debris has been an issue for decades, but has become a big topic recently, because of the recent collision. There have been a few other recent events. The public is somewhat interested.

James showed a couple pictures. There is a lot of stuff up there. NORAD is tracking about 17,000 pieces of orbital debris 10 cm or larger. It is estimated that there are some 300,000 pieces of orbital debris 1 to 10 cm.

Who is responsible for all the junk? The 1972 convention on international liability makes the launching state. People launching are strictly liable for any damage caused on the Earth from a launch or reentry of any manmade object. Liable for any on-orbit collision if the fault be established.

How well has this worked? In 1978 a Soviet satellite scattered across Canada. The soviets denied responsibility and paid the Canadian government three million. Then he talked about the Iridium crash with the Russian satellite.

Is there a duty to dispose of space junk? The simple answer is NO.

A UN committee recently released seven suggestions. In the United States the FCC regulates space debris.

(Here my laptop kicked out and I lost the rest of his points.)

The full agenda

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