If a satellite falls on your house, space law protects you

But there are no legal penalties for leaving junk in orbit. Space is shaping up to be a new frontier on which the tragedy of the commons can play out.

Today, more than 2,500 objects larger than 10cm orbit at or below an altitude of 400km. PHOTO: NASA

On May 8, a piece of space junk from a Chinese rocket fell uncontrolled back to Earth and landed in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives. A year ago, in May, another Chinese rocket met the same fate when it plummeted out of control into the waters off the West African coast. No one knew when or where either of these pieces of space junk was going to hit, so it was a relief when neither crashed on land or injured anyone.

Space debris is any non-functional, human-made object in space. As a professor of space and society focused on space governance, I've noticed that there are three questions the public always asks when falling space debris gets into the news. Could this have been prevented? What would have happened if there was damage? And how will new commercial companies be regulated as space activities and launches increase exponentially?

Please or to continue reading the full article.

Get unlimited access to all stories at $0.99/month
  • Latest headlines and exclusive stories
  • In-depth analyses and award-winning multimedia content
  • Get access to all with our no-contract promotional package at only $0.99/month for the first 3 months*

*Terms and conditions apply.