The Earth’s Need for a Space Ombudsman

Qamar Ali Jafri
Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow, India

Volume III, Issue IV, 2020

Mankind has always been fascinated with the space. Space flight began with superpower prestige and the race to put a man on the moon. U.S.S.R became the first nation to send man into space and thus provoked the concept of Space Law. Consequently, the race for space exploration kicked-off. There have been a number of advancements in space exploration since then. From multi-fold categories of satellites, to International Space Station and from establishing foot on the moon, to anticipating the approaching threats from the outer space, humans have achieved a tremendous success all the way.

With many countries proficient enough to carry out the space exploration, the need for enactment of universal Space Law was felt. In the absence of prominent case laws, the current Space Law is endorsed by various treaties and conventions only. First key treaty was Outer Space Treaty, which is the Magna Carta of Space Law came into force in 1967. As we go from bi polar world to multi polar world, many treaties came in way but the main purpose was the ‘peaceful utilization of space and space resources’ for the welfare of mankind.

This legacy of over 50 years of space flight has brought us impressive technical and scientific developments and achievements — but it has also led to the growing population of space junk. There is an internationally recognised need to deal with the issue; a need which strengthens after each incident. As Donald Kessler, retired head of NASA’s orbital debris programme, stated:

“The longer you wait to do this the more expensive it’s going to be. Given the economy, we’ll probably end up putting it off, but that’s really not very wise. This scenario of increasing space debris will play out even if we don’t put anything else in orbit.”

Even if we do not launch anything else into orbit, the ‘Kessler Effect’ remains a risk that may render space activities unfeasible for several decades.