The impact of space tourism on the international law of outer space

Steven Freeland*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The successful ‘launch’ and return of SpaceShipOne in late 2004 marked the latest step towards the eventual establishment of a viable commercial space tourism industry. This will involve both sub-orbital and orbital flights, and probably lead to other more permanent possibilities for humans to spend time in space. While the advent of space tourism constitutes a permissible ‘use’ of outer space within the terms of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, it was not directly in the minds of the drafters of the various space treaties and United Nations General Assembly resolutions dealing with the use of space. As a result, space tourism activities give rise to a number of interesting and conceptually difficult legal questions.

This paper examines some of the more pressing issues that need to be addressed in order to allow for the appropriate regulation of larger-scale commercial space tourism activities. It will discuss issues involving liability, the development of property rights and the legal status of space tourists, as well as considering broader ethical questions about the very nature of space tourism. These issues and others are important since it is apparent that the existing corpus of international space law does not fully provide for the legal concerns that arise from space tourism activities. In the light of these legal questions, the paper will conclude that space tourism represents a catalyst that will necessitate a revision of some of the fundamental notions of international space law. The paper will conclude that a clear and comprehensive legal framework must be established at the international level to reflect the wishes of the global community regarding the future use of space in this way.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 56th International Astronautical Congress 2005 and 48th Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space (IISL)
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc. (AIAA)
ISBN (Print)1563478277, 9781563478277
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes
Event48th Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space - Fukuoka, Japan
Duration: 17 Oct 200521 Oct 2005


Conference48th Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space


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