Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 8-1-2019

Publication Citation

26 Indiana J. Global Legal Studies 741 (2019)


"Space law," much like outer space itself, still remains largely un­navigated in some aspects. "Space law" is a term loosely used to dictate the body of law that refers to the international rules and regulations surrounding exploration and behavior while in outer space; while it quite uniformly covers questions of general damage control, international relations, and resource exploration, some areas of this body of law remain ambiguous and only partially implemented across the globe. One of these broad areas is the role of tort law in outer space-liability stemming from spacecraft collision and the resulting damage that occurs between the countries. This paper argues that since space law shares many similarities with maritime law, the law of the seas, certain maritime law regulations should be adopted. Maritime law has traditionally implemented the practice of limitation on liability since the passage of the Limitation of Liability Act, 46 U.S.C. §§ 181-196--a set of statutes that limits the liability of a defendant in a tort claim when damage has occurred to a ship, cargo vessel, or other related craft while at sea. Despite best efforts and careful planning, expensive accidents can still occur on land, while at sea, and now, with more frequent travel to outer space, the skies and beyond. To continue to encourage space exploration and research, nations should follow the longstanding example set out by maritime law in following limitations on liability. Extending a codified limitation on liability to space law will help pave the way for increased space exploration in the years to come. This measure will limit liability and thus the total amount of money a defendant might owe at the outcome of a collision settlement. This defendant will be in a better financial position to increase safety measures for continued exploration. Moreover, the window would be widened for other potential spacefarers who might have been wary at any associated costs with space travel and who would no longer need to worry about full liability were something to go wrong. The Limitation of Liability Act should be incorporated into space law to increase the presence of those already utilizing channels of space for both commercial and research purposes and to encourage new voyagers to the land beyond without quite the same hefty price tag attached.