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Is the Present Rescue and Return Regime Sufficient to Govern Private Spacecrafts and Persons? (Presentation Slides)

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Document pages: 18 pages

Abstract: In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Rescue Agreement which deals with rescue and return of distressed objects and personnel launched into outer space to earth, it is pertinent to reflect on the Rescue Agreement, its the object and context and examine whether the Rescue Agreement has remained relevant with changing scenarios in space industry, especially with the spurt of private space activities today.Led by the humanitarian values and the universal moral principle that States should do their utmost and render all possible assistance to astronauts in the events of accidents, distress or emergency landing, the States agreed to assist astronauts in the event of accident, distress or emergency landing in the territory of another State or high seas.1 The responsibility of rescue and return of personnel and space objects is put on rescuing States who are supposed to return the personnel and space objects to the launching authority which includes the launching States and intergovernmental organizations that launched the space objects concerned. However, the drafters of the Rescue Agreement could not have contemplated the spurt of private space activities that we have seen in recent times. This complicates the situation and gives rise to several questions such as: should private spacecraft and persons on board such private spacecraft be covered under Rescue Agreement? What happens when the launching authority which is supposed to demand for rescue and return of personnel are not interested in the rescue? Are the private operators responsible for rescue and return under the Rescue Agreement? The paper deals with whether the Rescue Agreement is sufficient in addressing the questions that have arisen with growth of private space activities and whether it is time for supplemental instruments for addressing rescue and return of humans and space objects in the changing scenario.

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