Chapter

Definitional Issues in Space Law: ‘Space Objects’, ‘Astronauts’, and Related Expressions

Bin Cheng

in Studies in International Space Law

Published in print December 1997 | ISBN: 9780198257301
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191681745 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198257301.003.0018
Definitional Issues in Space Law: ‘Space Objects’, ‘Astronauts’, and Related Expressions

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Much of international space law has been developed through the United Nations, principally in the form of the five treaties that it has drafted and presented to States for their acceptance. These are the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies of 27 January 1967 (the Space Treaty); the Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts, and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space of 22 April 1968 (the Astronauts Agreement); the Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects of 29 March 1972 (the Liability Convention); the Convention on Registration on Objects Launched into Outer Space of 14 January 1975 (the Registration Convention); and the Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies of 5 December 1979 (the Moon Treaty). Owing partly to the speed of the development of astronautics, and partly to a lack of co-ordination, some of the terms and phraseology used in these treaties are increasingly being seen as, if not exactly inconsistent, at least ambiguous, confusing, or inadequate. Among these terms are ‘space objects’ and ‘astronauts’, and some of their related expressions, such as ‘personnel of spacecraft’. This chapter seeks to unravel the meanings of these terms in international space law, especially in the context of the several treaties relating to outer space elaborated by the United Nations.

Keywords: international law; space law; international treaties; space objects; astronauts

Chapter.  8920 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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