Need for Indian Space Law

Space age commenced with the launch of first human satellite, Sputnik-1 in 1957 by the Soviet Union which opened doors of space for exploration and activities for the rest of the world. Indian Space Age began in 1962 with setting up of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). India launched its first rocket in 1963 under the guidance of Dr. Vikram Sarabahi. However, unlike the atomic energy domain which came under 1948 Atomic Energy Act revised in 1962, the country’s space activities are still to be regulated by specific legislations.

After the launch of its first rocket in 1963, the launch of Aryabhatta was the first big milestone in Indian Space age. Since then, India’s effort has been crystallised into several missions with applications into missions such as areas of communication, broadcasting, meteorology, oceanography, monitoring calamities and disasters, etc. Substantially with the launch of Polar Satellite launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) India joined the group of those seven nations in world with indigenous satellite launch capabilities. The historical launch of Chandrayaan (the moon mission) in 2008 and Mangalyaan (the mars mission) in 2014 increased India’s status in Space. And today, India is recognized as a space superpower in the world.

Today, India is in par with countries like United States and Russia in space power, the only fact in which India lags behind is equalizing with these nations in providing sufficient state laws to regulate this field.

Following are the issues which needs to be resolve in virtue of the requisite space legislations.
Single Independent Regulator – In the current time, there are multiple ministries in India namely, the ministry of home affairs, the department of space, the department of telecommunication, the ministry of defence, etc. which regulate space mechanism. India requires a single independent regulator which could provide all the details required to perform regulatory process including the issuance of a place in orbit to launch a satellite or rocket, licenses to launch, clearance for the technology and all other related stuff.

Space Junk – space junk or space debris comprises of both man made and natural particles that enhances the probability of disastrous collision which may cause damage to space vehicles. Although there is no specific rules and regulations for these, some strong guidelines are issued by NASA which has been adopted by UN General Assembly. However, a well formulated provision on liability of launching state is still needed to reduce the conflicts between countries.
Security Measures – with the rising threats to national peace and security by potential space and cyber warfare possibilities, countries are required to invest adequately in adopting cyber and military security measures.

Liability for damage – Article 2 of the Liability Convention states that a launching state shall be absolutely liable for damage caused by its space object on the surface of the earth or to the aircraft flight and would have to pay compensation for the same. This is irrelevant because it does not state the quantum of damage to be paid.

Satellites are extremely realistic and dynamic instruments. They have completely revolutionized amongst all aspects of human existence. India needs a space activities law backed by proper rules and regulations. India has got a huge future in space. And the space law will act as a catalyst in the growth of India as a space power.

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