India is one of the fastest growing economies of the world and at a growth rate
of 7.5% which has fared better than many other developing countries. As we march
ahead in all spheres of human endeavor, we are also making immense forays in the
field of space exploration and its research. With recent accomplishments in this
highly specialized area, we are now claiming our place amongst the elite nations
who are the recognized world leaders in Space technology. This article describes
a comprehensive analysis of current trends in development of space law.
Our country has tried to bring in all possible legislations, rules ,regulations
and guidelines to stimulate growth .Even as we make – in-roads in the area of
Space technology and research through various Space agencies instituted by the
Central Government ,appropriate space legislation in a sphere that has largely
been neglected or overlooked for a long time by the law makers. In an
increasingly Competitive global business environment, every nation would want to
set its own priorities even in the use of the Stratosphere and beyond. Again
cooperation among nations in the use of Space ,sharing of information and Space
technology would become a need rather than a contentious issue.
To make this happen, it is imperative that suitable legislation and a unified
governance system recognized by all the nations of the world is put in place. As
Space flights funded by the Private Organizations in different Countries are
becoming a reality, it is high time that we take precautions to ensure that a
system of governance is in place to resolve any possible issues or calamities
that might occur in outer space.
Significant Events In Space Research Development:
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is a Space agency that was created
by the Government of India. Since its establishment in 1969, it has launched may
successful lunar and mars missions. This Organization has been able to launch 83
satellites in a span of 47 years for various research purposes. The Chandrayaan
I mission brought us laurels with the pioneering discovery of water in the moon.
The Mars mission was another feather in the cap for our Space Scientists. India
today has opened up Foreign Investment in almost all the sectors enabling direct
Private investment in Space research as well. In the absence of appropriate
legislation, our contributions may become dulled or unrecognized as funding and
investments particularly Private, becomes an obstacle. As an enabler appropriate
legislation should be put in place.
Formation Of The United Nation Treaties:
Space law can be described as the body of law applicable to and governing space
–related activities.The term Space law
is the most often associated with the
rules ,principles and standards of international law in the five international
treaties and five sets of principles governing outer space which have been
enumerated under the patronage of the United Nations Organisation and various
other national laws. Soviet Union was one of the very first countries in the
world to launch a satellite named Sputnik 1 in 1957 and this led to the famous
Space race between the USSR and USA during the cold war Period.
- The first famous treaty Outer Space treaty' was drafted, which was ratified
by 24 UN member states. This piece of legislation made exploration of space free
for the states and also raised the importance nuclear weapons which was
prohibited to be placed in outer space.
- The Second treaty is the Rescue Agreement, which deals with making
potential support available to the astronauts who have landed in other
state's territory during re-entry, due to an accident , distress, emergency
and or unintentional landing. In 1968, the number of human spaceflights or
any manned mission to space was very few. So, this treaty was designed
keeping in mind, the frequent visits to the outer Space by humans in the
- The third treaty is the liability Convention of 1972 which is an
elaboration of the outer space treaty, 1968.This imposes liability on States
for the damages it creates in the Space and in other State territory through
its space activities.
- The Fourth treaty being the Registration Convention has been ratified by
62 member states of the UN in 1976.This requires all the states to maintain
a register of every bit of detail about the particular countries space
objective. India has been a signatory to this treaty and has been abiding by
the above mentioned standards by providing information to the Secretary
general of the United Nations for inclusion in the United Nation register.
- The fifth and last treaty is the Moon Agreement that regulated the state
from using any nuclear weapons on the Celestial bodies as well as bans all
exploration of the Moon without the permission of other nation for the
benefit of the entire human race.
Till now Indian Space activities have been governed by the International
Principles and treaties which the United Nation has laid down. So far there has
been a lack of initiative by our legislations to introduce similar laws in our
The Constitution of India also plays it part in governing these Space
activities. Article 51 of the Constitution strives for international peace and
Security. The Clause (3) of this Article pursues the state to respect all its
international treaties and Conventions it is party to. As India has been a
signatory to above said treaties, it also makes its maximum to effort to embrace
Importance Of India's Position In Space Law:
India is now gaining momentum in every sphere of human endeavor and is growing
by leaps and bounds in the race to become a global economic power. In the field
of Space research and technology too, India has made great strides and is in an
envious position today vis-a- vis – the acknowledged space super powers so to
speak. India has shown immense enthusiasm and has been very supportive at
various discussions and debates at conventions to promote the development of
international space law.
Heated deliberations have taken place in various forums regarding the formation
of a well- defined space law in India. The extent of India's space activities
have far surpassed expectations and are advancing at a rapid rate. Space law
being the next most significant area of research and experimentation requires
a robust and well –defined internal legal framework to guide the space agencies
irrespective of the extent of activities undertaken.
Increased Civilian applications of Space technology will require support from
private sector and in such a scenario, national Space , legislation becomes
indispensable. The launching of satellites and other Vehicles into outer Space
has been the greatest Scientific and technological achievement of our era.
However, Space law is a precarious ground to set foot in. As much as it is
necessary, it is important to design the laws in a way beneficial to mankind and
not harmful to the country's progress.
Functioning And Implementation Of Space Laws:
From the inception of Space exploration , Soviet legal experts have expressed
the view that countries must be guided by the International laws and as
prescribed by the United Nations charter. Of course, the general agreement is
that Space research and technology should be used for the benefit of the
peoples of the world. However, it is observed that almost 75% of the satellites
stationed in outer Space orbiting the earth are primarily performing military
tasks such as Surveillance, early warning, communication and navigation.
The military capability of Satellites have inspired military planners to
develop anti-satellite systems. Article 253 of the Constitution of India that
Confers power on the parliament to make laws for the implementation of India's
international obligations arising from treaties, agreements, Conventions or
decisions made at international conferences, associations or bodies. The Probe
will include 19 experiments in Space, including in microgravity fluid Physics,
microgravity combustion, Space material, Space radiation effect, microgravity
biological effect and Space technology , before returning to earth with results.
In the Coming years, innovative methods to use outer Space will Originate. Using
outer space for weather forecasting involves the issue of weather control in
which all nations have vital interest. Military campaigns, medical emergencies,
telephone calls, weather forecasts, Online maps, news materials and other forms
of information and Communication all rely on highly advanced and sophisticated
satellites that hover above the Earth's atmosphere.
Presently more than 40 countries of the world have atleast one satellite in
Orbit. There is the issue of Space debris, which needs to be addressed within
the broad framework of Space legislation.
With the advances in Space technology
and with the increase of Space traffic and Proliferation of nations in the Space
race, there will be a pressing need to device and formulate an internal
legislative framework that will act as a safeguard and provide reasonable safety
standards. Outer Space laws that are codified will bring in much more clarity
and will provide direction to nations as well as individuals researching and
experimenting in outer space related activities.
Enacting an efficient legislation at this stage will help the country to make
use of the law in an efficient manner presently and also will make it easier to
make amendment in the future to adapt to the changing world scenario. In depth
studies are to made in this emerging field and the law makers should have the
far-sightedness to enact legislations well ahead and be in a state of
When the legal framework and boundaries are clearly defined, it
will only bode well for the growth of space technology and research in India for
the benefit of all. Therefore launching of new satellites will only help India
Progress and advance towards greater Success in the field of Space law.
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