Today, it is not possible to begin a space activity in Luxembourg without authorisation. One law to specifically regulate space resource activities was adopted in 2017; another, to provide a legal framework for all other space programmes, has been discussed in parliament since June 2018. Mahulena Hofmann explains why Luxembourg needs a space legislation and provides an update on progress.
The international treaties on space activities which are binding upon Luxembourg do not make operators internationally liable for damage caused by space objects on the Earth, in air space or in outer space; instead, it is the States that launch or procure the launch that are potentially liable. For Luxembourg this means that, if a small research satellite launched under the registry of Luxembourg crashes in a neighbouring country, it would be the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg that would be legally obliged to cover the damage incurred.
Naturally, any potential recourse by the State of Luxembourg to the domestic private operators would be based on the civil law of Luxembourg. However, how does one determine that a State has such an influence, such control over operators, as to guarantee that only experienced and financially stable companies are conducting space activities? How can the risk that damage occurs be minimised?