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ICAOs Legal Authority to Regulate Aerospace Vehicles

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Document pages: 9 pages

Abstract: Space tourism is but the threshold step in the commercial development of privately financed and built space transportation systems. Once the technology has proven safe for the occasional wealthy tourist eager to float weightlessly and gaze down upon mother Earth, it is likely that entrepreneurs will take the next logical step and employ aerospace vehicles as suborbital transportation vehicles, sharply reducing transit times between the world s major cities. As there was once a high-end business and luxury market for the supersonic Concorde flown by British Airways and Air France, there will be a high-end market for commercial human space flight as well. As the move from propeller driven aircraft to jet engine powered aircraft revolutionized global transportation, aerospace technology will revolutionize the transportation of persons and cargo around the planet. The suborbital Earth-to-Earth transportation market likely poses the most promising long-term commercial opportunity for aerospace vehicles. Over time, it is likely that space transportation will eclipse space tourism in commercial importance.Both the existing regimes of Air Law and of Space Law were developed at a time when the technology for Earth-to-Earth aerospace movements did not yet exist. Thus, there is not yet a unified or integrated regime of Aerospace Law, and there appears to be much overlap and inconsistency between the regimes of Air Law and Space Law.As with the emergence of airplanes in the early 1900s, suborbital aerospace transportation vehicles (SATVs) will require international regulation to ensure their safe operation. This paper assesses ICAO s legal authority to regulate safety and navigation in suborbital aerospace transportation. Whether this authority should be exercised and the appropriate role for ICAO in regulating SATV is discussed.

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