Space Tourism And Its Legality
Author: Divyanshi Gupta, Faculty Of Law, Lucknow University.
The advent of space tourism demands the law of outer space to change according to the recent developments and participation of private players. Lack of legislation caused much perplexity on position of space tourist. The legal aspects of authorization, liability, registration, etc. and their impact on space tourism have been discussed. With the emergence of efficient legislation, there is massive potential that space tourism with witness great opportunities with enhanced cooperation across the globe.
Exploration of space has always allured humans. In this 21st century, every country has been trying to overshadow the other by display of its superiority. Space Tourism is one of the way to show. In the post world war scenario, only two super powers were greatly indulged in space activities, but now the atmosphere is different. High technological advancement has opened different aspect of space from exploring to sending missions and now the most recent is space tourism.
What is Space Tourism?
“Space Tourism” denotes commercial activities that offer consumers the experience of space travel, either directly or indirectly. It has been classified into three classes- 1.Sub-orbital 2.Orbital 3.Lunar Space. Space tourism allows people to travel to space for leisure, pleasure, etc. At present, space tourism is governed by treaty on principle governing the activities of states in the exploration and use of outer space, including the Moon and other Celestial Bodies, better known as Outer Space Treaty, UN COPUS i.e. the United Nations Committee on the peaceful uses of outer space, convention on International Civil Aviation i.e. Chicago Convention, etc.
Private Players are eager to enter space tourism industry, to make space holidays possible at the same time profitable and also commercially feasible. But this has led to another space race between players like Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, Axiom and Space X. Russia is the only country apart from private players to conduct orbital space tourism by its space agency, Roscosmos.
Advantages of Space Tourism:
- Space exploration provides an opportunity to prepare for hazards, as we know universe is a vast place with hidden dangers, through space exploration we could prepare us beforehand that could help us preserve our race.
- Exploring space, gives us information about our solar system, universe, etc. We can discover new things about our planet, etc. This information could help in various developments in space programs, infra red technologies, etc.
- Space exploration could lead us to discover new raw materials, which could us in various ways.
Disadvantages of Space Tourism:
- It could be dangerous to get into space with the present technology. Sending people in space, could be fatal, for instance, Freeman was killed in a crash of T-38, with 20 more people who lost their life.
- The cost of space exploration is very much high,
- The exposure to natural dangers while in space could be problematic in various ways.
Legality of Space Tourism:
- Lack of legislation: The primary issue with space tourism is the lack of legislation. Space tourism is unique attempt, so legality of space recreation are yet to be formulated. The present treaties and convention are obsolete and fail to deal with challenges coming to space tourism industry.
In the present scenario, there emerges a dire need to formulate laws for regulation space tourism industry, including private players.
- Legal Status: No international space law has defined space tourism, but now its imperative to define it, its legal position, rights, liabilities, etc.
There is no clarity whether space tourist will be regarded as astronauts or not. Article V of Outer Space Treaty, creates obligation on States, to assist astronauts in agony and distress. Similar principles is provided in Rescue Treaty, i.e., Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts and the Return of Astronauts and the Objects launched into Outer Space, but both these treaties are applicable only to astronauts, envoys of mankind and personnel of spacecraft but space tourist do not fall under the ambit of these treaties.
- Liability: According to Liability Convention, launching States have absolute liability for any damage due to space activities. Article XVII and XXI of Montreal Convention states that on death or any injury of passenger, the liability of carrier is unlimited, with an exception that if damage was caused due to delay when carrier has taken all necessary steps to evade the damage.
- Insurance: With rise in prospects of space tourism, a challenge is imposed on space insurance. In addition to this, the uncertain legal status of space tourist, its liabilities and regulation further create crisis for space insurance market.
- Registration of Vehicle: To send vehicle to space, it is mandatory for space law to authorize it according to Article VI of Outer Space Treaty. Stringent regulations are required from international as well as national space law for registration of space objects carrying tourists.