Assuring a safe, secure and sustainable space environment for space activities: Considerations on a consensual orbital debris remediation scheme

Research output: Journal contributionsConference article in journalResearch


This paper looks at the interaction between the classic rules of Outer Space Law as they apply to space debris. It transcends the traditional legal debate which focuses primarily on impact-related damage, particularly on Earth. Now, with longer term concerns for safe, secure and sustainable space environment at stake, there appears to be a strong case for aligning the debris codes, rules about preventive and precautionary measures for outer space activities, with the traditional liability system. The ultimate goal is to impact positively on debris control in Outer Space, enable its reduction, and agree on a modus vivendi that ranges from debris mitigation to include debris remediation. The paper considers how the current space law regime could enable practical and recognisable means of ensuring compliance with the debris rules, and its mitigation, possibly through incentive based systems. With the advent of space surveillance tracking systems, the Space Security Index and various other thematic programmes, a new matrix combining existing rules to shape sustainability is top of the regulatory agenda. The precarious state of the outer space environment is known to all, yet final agreement on the action required is still under discussion. This paper highlights some essential aspects of what could be done to initiate these remedial projects. In doing so, it draws attention to salient aspects of law and policy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, IAC
Pages (from-to)9389-9401
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

ISBN 978-163439986-9. 65th International Astronautical Congress 2014: Our World Needs Space, IAC 2014; Toronto; Canada; 29 September 2014 through 3 October 2014

    Research areas

  • Commercial law - Orbits, Space flight, Space surveillance, Sustainable development, Debris mitigation, Orbital debris, Outer space, Precautionary measures, Space activities, Space environment, Space security, Tracking system