Space exploration is governed by a series of complex international treaties and agreements which have for many years. The first and probably the most important ones celebrated its 50th anniversary on January 27 — the outer space Treaty (or, if longer, the Treaty on principles governing the activities of States in the exploration and use of outer space). This Treaty, signed in 1967, was drafted by the United Nations today remains the "Constitution" of outer space. It was signed and made official (ratified) 105 countries around the world.
While this agreement has worked quite well. But increasingly, began to have problems with it. If he can handle another 50 years?
The outer space Treaty, like all international laws, are technically bound to the countries that signed it. But the obvious lack of "space police" means that practically it can not fulfill. Therefore, the country, private person or company can just ignore it if you wish. The consequences of failure may include sanctions, but mostly just resentment and contempt from the international arena.
However, it is interesting that in the 50 years of its existence, the Treaty has never been violated. Although the practical problems appeared, they were always resolved in terms of space, does it without breaking.
Problems Of The Treaty
Although the agreement need to reconsider many points, one of the most important is that outer space should be used for "peaceful purposes" — weapons of mass destruction in space should not be used. Another point — the heavenly territory (the Moon or Mars, for example) is not subject to "national appropriation". In other words, no country can claim it.
These items were problematic since, as the Treaty entered into force, the first example of this problem was in the Declaration of Bogota in 1976. A group of eight countries tried to claim ownership of the segment of the orbit over their lands — so that if their boundaries were projected in the air, any "stationary" satellite has always stayed within its borders.
They argued that this space does not fall under the definition of "outer space" of the outer space Treaty, and therefore is a "natural resource". This statement has not been perceived as an attempt to break the contract, but rather to clarify that the orbits that go around the equator of the Earth or in the direction of rotation of the planet should belong to the countries beneath them. However, this ultimately did not find support of the international community.
In 2007 China, they thought, violated the agreement when he shot down one of its own weather satellites with a ground-based ballistic missiles of average range. This event was perceived as "aggressive" in Japan, but since the missiles do not fall under the definition of "weapons of mass destruction", it was concluded that they do not violate the contract. However, international protest caused the debris cloud hanging in orbit.
Despite the importance of the outer space Treaty, we must recognize that in the modern era it is somewhat outdated — since converted, for the most part, to countries. Many private companies (like lunarland) use it and offer land on celestial bodies, type of the moon. Agents involved in the sale of these sites justify their actions by the fact that under the Treaty these territories not subject to national appropriation — technically private companies or individuals can these territories to assign. They're not in the country.
Trying to resolve some of the shortcomings of the Treaty, the U.S. government adopted the law on outer space in 2015, which States that US citizens can participate in commercial exploration and exploitation of space resources. Although this may undermine the prohibition of the outer space Treaty in the possession of the heavenly territory, in space law there is a provision stating that the United States make no claims and nothing is assigned. Leaves US "unable" to enjoy the heavenly territory, not giving it.
Despite the obvious legal loopholes and problems the Treaty has long formed the basis of international law for outer space, and he remains an important framework for regulating the cosmic processes. That desire, which was embodied in it at the time of writing, to create the laws of space, remains an important — and whether it adopted any changes to meet changing commercial and political circumstances, remains to be seen.
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