2017 year Reviews

Commercial Uses of Space and Space Tourism: legal and policy aspects

Jan Wouters, Philip De Man & Rik Hansen (Eds),

Edward Elgar, 2017, 303pp, hardback


ISBN 978-1-78536-106-7

It is probably the case that a book with this title could have been written at any time in the last half century of the Space Age: at an early point, it would have been largely speculation, but today the commercial use of space, in particular for tourism, has a far more solid basis. It is arguably also true that most entrepreneurs would prefer to develop their businesses unhindered, rather than worry about law and policy, but that would be to ignore the ‘governor’ of the engine of commercialism.

As the editors of this text recognise in their introduction, the “greatest contemporary challenge in space law [which dates largely from the late 1960s] is adapting the ageing treaty framework to today’s very different realities”. The first of three main parts of the volume tackles these ‘legal challenges’, Part II covers the ‘regulatory responses’ and Part III discusses ‘space governance’. The authors are legal, policy and industry experts and the style of the book is academic, with references as footnotes and (thankfully in this multi-author tome) a decent index.

Although the book includes the inevitable background on the Outer Space Treaty and the spaceflight liability regime, it covers present-day concerns about large satellite constellations and space debris; regulations for sub-orbital flights carrying fare-paying passengers; and the operation, eventually, of spaceplanes. Two case studies address “commercial sub-orbital spaceplanes in the UK” and “Bigelow Aerospace’s adventures in export control”. This should prove a useful book for lecturers and students alike, though the high cover price is likely to present a barrier to many.

Mark Williamson, Space Technology Consultant, Cumbria, UK

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