JOURNAL OF BEIJING UNIVERSITY OF AERONAUTICS AND A ›› 2018, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (4): 91-99.DOI: 10.13766/j.bhsk.1008-2204.2017.0242

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Legal Basis of Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities: From the Perspective of Active Space Debris Removal

LONG Jie   

  1. Faculty of Law, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong 999077, China
  • Received:2017-08-26 Online:2018-07-25 Published:2018-05-25


In the context that the United Nations is building an international mechanism for "Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities", drafting relevant standards and procedures of active space debris removal was put on the agenda. Before relevant technical standards are introduced, it is necessary to study the legal issues of active space debris removal. According to various legal documents and state practice, space debris still belongs to the "space object" mentioned in the Outer Space Treaty system, and the active removal of space debris is still regulated by the existing framework of international law. The removal of the identified space debris is not only the right but also the obligation for their producing countries. For any unidentified space debris, when posing a threat to the common interests of humankind, any state of the international community has the right to remove it. In the case of facing identifiable space debris of other countries, threatened countries and countries with removal capability also have the right to actively remove the debris, subject to confirmation of the dangers and urgency.

Key words: outer space activities, long-term sustainability, space debris, active removal, outer space treaty

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