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  • Defining Subject Matter under Space Law: Near Earth Objects versus Space Objects

    Paper number



    Prof. Frans G. Von der Dunk, Black Holes BV, The Netherlands



    It may seem to be an obvious, instinctive distinction, the one between (natural) near earth objects and (man-made) space objects. However, the very recent proposal tabled by the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China on de-weaponisation of space apparently makes reference in this context to a prohibition to ‘attack’ “outer space objects” alternatively “objects in outer space”. Such varying use of terminology may raise appropriate concerns about the applicability of any such agreement, or indeed other present or future rules of space law, to the specific case of NEO’s and any possible future actions to protect the earth against their potentially devastating impact. The present paper represents an effort to clearly outline the definitional issues involved, in the hope of precluding any potentially stifling confusion about the applicability or non-applicability of relevant rules of international space law. 
    Thus, the issue of the definition of ‘space object’ will be revisited, this time with the help of national space laws as tools for interpreting international space law, and discussed in juxtaposition with such definitions as those of ‘celestial bodies’ and ‘near earth objects’, with reference to the applicability of relevant rules of international space law.
    Abstract document


    Manuscript document

    IAC-08.E8.4.3.pdf (🔒 authorized access only).

    To get the manuscript, please contact IAF Secretariat.