The Jetsons and Space Law

Growing up, I loved to watch re-runs of the Jetsons on Sunday morning cartoons; I dreamed of life in space, zooming around in capsules without the full force of gravity holding me down (and I still do)! A recent article in the New York Times chronicled SpaceX’s successful launching and landing of the privately funded Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral to the Pacific Ocean. As NASA’s Ares I rocket is facing cancellation, it is NASA’s hope that private companies will transport astronauts and equipment to the space station. Such defunding and the growth of private space travel is a turning point for the future of space exploration, and as such, it prompted me to explore my childhood fascination with space, in a new context, law.

If given the opportunity to catapult into space, I would grab the following books from the shelves of the Cornell library for the long ride ahead:

Thus far, the United Nations has served as primary agency for international cooperation and for the “formation of necessary international rules” for outer space, the oldest being, the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and use of Outers Pace, including the Moon and other Celestial Bodies adopted December 19, 1966.  The United Nations Treaties and Treaties and Principles on Outer Space contains five of the adopted United Nations treaties governing space (Main Collection: KZD1120.U447 2002; subject search: space law).

Prof. Dr. I. H. Ph. Diederiks-Verschoor and Prof. Dr. V. Kopal’s book, An Introduction to Space Law, will be perfect for my journey. Not only does this book provide an overview to some of the problems with space law, like the delineation between airspace and outer space, but it also reviews the space law treaties, the exploration and uses of outer space, environmental issues, and more (Main Collection: K 4135. D54 2008; subject search: space law).

The Environmental Element in Space Law: Assessing the Present and Charting the Future by Lotta Viikari offers a “legal examination of space activities from an environmental perspective.” In this book, Viikari examines the environmental problems related to space activity, the legal instruments available to regulate environmentally harmful space debris, and the alternatives for better environmental management in space (p.9) (Environmental Collection: KZD:1146.U6 V55 2008;subject search: space law).

Ruwantissa I.R. Abeyratne in Frontiers of Aerospace Law provides a broad overview of a variety of space issues including: legal liabilities related to extraterrestrial intelligence, environmental pollution, cyber crime affecting outer space, and aircraft noise. Abeyratne asserts that information technology, computer law and laws related to state and individual rights will shape the future of space law (p. ix) (Main Collection: KZD 1145.A342002; subject search—space law).

Though it is unlikely that I will extract minerals on my first trip to space, it always good to know about future opportunity for development and the potential for permanent residence on the moon. In the Exploitation of Natural Resources of the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies: A Proposal for a Legal Regime, Fabio Tronchetti explores such opportunities in addition to  the legal framework for peaceful mineral abstraction in space and the maintenance of the environment (Environmental Collection: KZD3491.5.T76 2009; subject search—space mining).

I think the Jetson’s young scientist son, Elroy, will be pleased with my book selections.

Written by HEC