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Space Debris as a Legal Challenge

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Fifty years of Space flight has left many objects in Outer Space. For a long time the Space community has debated the implementation of regulations concerning the increasing problem of the resulting Space debris. The reasons for this have been intensively analyzed, but the international community is yet to find an effective legal answer. The traditional Space Law treaties do not cover this question and in particular cannot offer a suitable solution for the most urgent need: the avoidance of Space debris through its removal from Outer Space back to earth. The legal outcome of this debate is rather disappointing. The UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space has released special Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines which are neither legally binding nor meet the real necessity. They can only be recognized as a first tentative step in the right direction. But their implementation could foresee the serious danger that the international community leaves the state of law as it is and fails to develop it further. Therefore it is necessary to negotiate a new provision and insert it into the Outer Space Treaty. This article offers a draft of such a legally binding obligation.


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