International law and the exploration and use of outer space

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On 4 October 1957, a small Soviet space object called Sputnik I was launched. It subsequently orbited the Earth over 1,400 times during the following three-month period. This unprecedented event heralded the dawn of the ‘space age’, arousing sentiments both of awe as regards its scientific significance, but also of fear and uncertainty, particularly in the United States and the ‘West’, given the then prevailing geopolitical atmosphere dominated by the Cold War. The journey of Sputnik I immediately highlighted some difficult and controversial legal questions. The reality of humankind's aspirations in terms of explor­ation and future utilization of this largely unknown frontier - outer space - had now become more tangible. The world had to react – quickly - to the advent of this technology, which had led to an unprecedented event in an unregulated international legal environment. The need for legal guidelines became a priority, not only co address the immediate questions as to the legal ‘status’ of outer space, but to provide a legitimate and acceptable framework for the regulation of those future activities that could reasonably be foreseen.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRisk and the Regulation of Uncertainty in International Law
EditorsMonika Ambrus, Rosemary Rayfuse, Wouter Werner
ISBN (Electronic)9780198795896
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


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