International legal problems associated with the active space debris removal
Nataliia R. Malysheva. International legal problems associated with the active space debris removal
On the example of the particular international space project «LEOSWEEP», in the implementation of which is involved the International Space Law Center under Institute of State and Law named after VM Koretsky (National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine), this article analyzes the legal issues arising in connection with the active space debris removal. The problem is considered in two interrelated aspects: formally legal and substantial. The conclusion is that the international space law, elaborated in the 60s - 70s of the 20th century, never uses the term "space debris". The resulting legal gaps are now trying to fill in so-called acts «Soft law»: recommendations, guidelines of the specific international organizations, standards of the International Organization for Standardization, as well as acts of national legislations. In an analysis of substantive issues to minimize space debris, it is noted that the relevant legal problems related to the uneven interpretation of basic terms; the lack of clear mechanisms for registering space objects, and liability for violation of the regulations in this part; different practice of launching states in the field of registration of space objects; relationship between the state of registration and other launching states (if any), the volume and timing of dissemination of jurisdiction of the the State of registration over space objects, liability for harm caused by the debris removal from orbit; applicability and the limits of national legislation in the conflict situations; licensing activities on space debris removal, especially related international projects, some other problems. In considering these issues, the article focuses on the range of extension of the legal regime of the space object to space debris objects, regulated by international space law. The questions of the jurisdiction of States and international organizations in implementing them on the active debris removal activities are discussed. The problems of the legal relationship between the launching States which are carrying out a mission to remove debris, and those who are the launching States on removal of the object are considered. It is concluded that under the conditions of the temporary absence of the multilateral international instruments in the field of space debris mitigation, center of gravity in the regulation of the international relations on the specific space projects must be carried in the level of mutual agreements between the parties of the relevant relationship.
Key words: space debris, space object, active space debris removal, International Space Law, national space legislation, LEOSWEEP project.