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International Space Treaties

International Space Treaties

The Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (1979) is the infamous "Moon Treaty". It was killed by a handful of L5 Society Society activists who were the first to see that it would outlaw property rights in the rest of the universe and indefinitely bog down space settlement in a "common heritage of all mankind" morass. When as a result of the L5 Society efforts the US congress failed to ratify the treaty, the USSR also breathed a sigh of relief. They likewise did not ratify. The soviets were so surprised at the impact of this relatively unknown organization that they sent very obvious KGB members to chapter meetings in New York City to find out who they were. The Soviet Embassy in Washington DC subscribed to the L5 News for years afterwards.

Original ascii text copies of the files came from the Tufts' Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy site at, the "Mulitateral Treaties Project". Unfortuneately this site seems to no longer be available.

The Univ of Colorado's Center for Space Law & Policy maintains a BBS at (303)494-8446 where these are available via dial-in for those without FTP.


Full text of major space treaties
Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water (5 Aug 63)

Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (1967)

Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space (1968)

Agreement Relating to the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization "INTELSAT" (20 Aug 71)

Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects (1972)

Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space (1975)

Convention on International Maritime Satellite Organization (INMARSAT) with Annex (3 Sep 76, amended 1985, with Protocol 1981)

Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (1979)


Background documents
White House Background Briefing Excerpt, Ukraine Space Cooperation (Nov 1994)

Proceedings of the Thirty-Eighth Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space, 2-6 October, 1995 Oslo, Norway. Fifty papers are presented in this volume, including the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition. The case concerned satellite broadcasting and use of the geostationary orbit (Agrethia v. Pathron). Sessions included legal aspects of commercial space activities; legal issues arising from recent technical studies relating to space debris; recent developments in the law of intergovernmental organizations dealing with space matters; and other legal matters.

1996, 408 pp, Hardcover
ISBN 1-56347-213-9
AIAA Members: $64.95
List Price: $84.95
Order #: P961(800)

Opinions and Discussion
Derelicts in Space and Space Station Jurisdiction


US Domestic Law
This is a temporary home for US Law documents until there are enough to warrant restructuring. At this moment we only have:

Space Transportation Services Purchase Act of 1993 (HR2731) The current status of this bill and its' successors was researched and passed on to us by Dave Neff. He was told:

As we discussed on the phone, H.R. 2731 was introduced on July 23, 1994 by Rep. Bob Walker. No action occured on the bill and it died at the end of the 103rd Congress in December, 1994. The provisions of H.R. 2731 relating to tax incentives for space commerce (sections 402, 403, 404, 405 and 406) were reintroduced as H.R. 1953 on June 28, 1995. No further action has occured on the bill. Congress is expected to adjourn around October 1 and it is doubtful that H.R. 1953 will be approved by then.

As you are aware, legislation that provides tax breaks are very hard to pass because it essentially requires that Congress find other funding to make up for the revenue loss. While tax incentives for space commerce have supporters, it is not broad enough to gain approval in Congress at this time.

Space Commercialization Promotion Act of 1996 (HR3936). According to Charles Miller of the Space Frontier Foundation:

H.R. 3936, the "Space Commercialization Promotion Act Of 1996", passed in the House of Representatives on a bipartisan voice vote last Tuesday. We need the Senate to approve the bill this week using a procedure called "unanimous consent", before they recess on friday.

On Tuesday the 24th, the bill will be "hotlined" to every senator's office, asking for their consent that the bill be passed. While there is a chance that one objecting senator could be accomodated with a minor amendments, there is NO TIME to negotiate major changes to the bill or have a "conference". The Senate must pass the bill this week or the opportunity is lost until the next congress.

59 FR 11360 Russian Federation and U.S.; agreement regarding international trade in commercial space launch services; implementation guidelines, 11360. (10-Mar-94)

The U.S. House of Representatives - Internet Law Library - U.S. Code has a searchable copy of US federal law code.

Legal Information Institute at Cornell has a law server that can also be used to retrieve space law relevant codes.

United Nations Treaty Collection

Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General
1 CHAPTER I Charter of the United Nations and Statute of the International Court of Justice
2 CHAPTER II Pacific Settlement of International Disputes
3 CHAPTER III Privileges and Immunities, Diplomatic and Consular Relations, etc
4 CHAPTER IV Human Rights
5 CHAPTER V Refugees and Stateless Persons
6 CHAPTER VI Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances
7 CHAPTER VII Traffic in Persons
8 CHAPTER VIII Obscene Publications
10 CHAPTER X International Trade and Development
11 CHAPTER XI Transport and Communications
12 CHAPTER XII Navigation
13 CHAPTER XIII Economic Statistics
14 CHAPTER XIV Educational and Cultural Matters
15 CHAPTER XV Declaration of Death of Missing Persons
16 CHAPTER XVI Status of Women
17 CHAPTER XVII Freedom of Information
18 CHAPTER XVIII Penal Matters
19 CHAPTER XIX Commodities
20 CHAPTER XX Maintenance Obligations
21 CHAPTER XXI Law of the Sea
22 CHAPTER XXII Commercial Arbitration
23 CHAPTER XXIII Law of Treaties
24 CHAPTER XXIV Outer Space
25 CHAPTER XXV Telecommunications
26 CHAPTER XXVI Disarmament
27 CHAPTER XXVII Environment
28 CHAPTER XXVIII Fiscal Matters
29 CHAPTER XXIX Miscellaneous

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