Space laws governs the activities in the atmosphere outside the earth. It has a collection of international agreements, treaties, conventions, and resolutions established by organizations like the United Nations, alongside regulations set by individual nations.

Space is governed by 2 laws;

1) International laws

2) Country-specific laws, also known as National Space Laws

International laws

International space rules are developed with the agreement of all governments and are binding on all countries. These rules are generic in nature, yet they may be tailored to the interests of a few nations. Five instruments have been adopted by the United Nations (UN) through the General Assembly’s Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.


  1. The Outer Space Treaty, also known as the Treaty on Principles Governing States’ Activities in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, is a multilateral treaty that serves as the foundation for international space law.
  2. The Outer Space Treaty prohibits nuclear weapons in space, limits the use of the Moon and other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes, promotes free exploration and use of space by all nations, and prohibits any country from claiming sovereignty over outer space or celestial bodies.
  3. While the treaty prohibits military bases, weapon testing, and maneuvers on celestial bodies, it does not explicitly prohibit all military activity in space, such as forming space troops or deploying conventional weapons.


  1. The Rescue Agreement, also known as the Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, Return of Astronauts, and Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space, establishes governments’ rights and duties for rescuing individuals in space.
  2. If a space object or its pieces land in another state’s territory, the receiving state must retrieve and return the object to the launching authority upon request. The Rescue Agreement requires the launching state to reimburse the state for the expenditures involved in collecting and returning the space item.


  1. The 1972 Space Liability Convention extends on the liability restrictions established by the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. The lone claim lodged under the treaty occurred in 1978, when the nuclear-powered Soviet satellite Cosmos 954 crashed on Canadian territory.


  1. The United Nations General Assembly established the Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space (Registration Convention) in 1974, which became effective in 1976. As of February 2022, 72 states have ratified it.
  2.  According to the treaty, governments must provide the United Nations with information on the orbits of all space objects. The United Nations has previously kept a list of launches as a result of a General Assembly Resolution passed in 1962.
  3. The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) maintains the registry, which contains
  4. Name of launching State
  5. An appropriate designator of the space object or its registration number
  6. Date and territory or location of launch
  7. Basic orbital parameters (Nodal period, Inclination, Apogee and Perigee)
  8. General function of the space object


  1. The 1979 Moon Treaty’s main goal is “to provide the necessary legal principles for governing the behavior of states, international organizations, and individuals who explore celestial bodies other than Earth, as well as administration of the resources that exploration may yield.”
  2. The treaty specifies that the Moon should be used to benefit all governments and peoples in the world community.


Statutes like the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Act of 1969 and the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) Guidelines of 2011 offer limited regulation over space-related activities.

  1. SATCOM POLICY: Established in 1997, this policy aims to improve satellite communication, launch capabilities, and promote private investment. However, it was judged insufficient, prompting the development of standards, guidelines, and processes.
  2. SATCOM Policy (Norms, Guidelines, and Procedures, 2000): These laws specify how private Indian enterprises with less than 74% foreign equity can build up satellite systems, as well as how to use the INSAT satellite system.
  3. The 2011 Remote Data Sensing Policy; permits the transfer of high-resolution imaging services for private use, but excludes sensitive imagery data. It seeks to open up the remote sensing industry to development initiatives.
  4. The ISRO Technology Transfer Policy aims to increase private investment by outsourcing satellite component manufacture to national and foreign enterprises, allowing ISRO to focus on research & development.


In a nutshell, there are five instruments, including treaties and agreements, that govern the activities in the sky beyond the earth. The main concern of these rules is to prohibit a nation from weaponizing or establishing a military base on the celestial bodies. In India, there are rules and policies on their satellites, and the smooth functioning of institutions like ISRO and the National Remote Sensing Centre and its laws and rules on space exploration are notably sparse.
Contributed by: Lucky Singh (intern), Army Institute of Law, Mohali

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This field is required.

This field is required.


The following disclaimer governs the use of this website (“Website”) and the services provided by the Law offices of Kr. Vivek Tanwar Advocate & Associates in accordance with the laws of India. By accessing or using this Website, you acknowledge and agree to the terms and conditions stated in this disclaimer.

The information provided on this Website is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice or relied upon as such. The content of this Website is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between you and the Law Firm. Any reliance on the information provided on this Website is done at your own risk.

The Law Firm makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, completeness, reliability, or suitability of the information contained on this Website.

The Law Firm disclaims all liability for any errors or omissions in the content of this Website or for any actions taken in reliance on the information provided herein. The information contained in this website, should not be construed as an act of solicitation of work or advertisement in any manner.