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Jamie Baker | University of Sunderland

Sports Journalism BA (Hons)

Space and the Law

It’s beautiful isn’t it?
I’m a geek! I admit it and something that is of great interest to me is space, it’s fascinating! And now it’s also starting to link into my passion, Law!

Recently in the news there has been a lot of talk regarding space tourism companies running commercial flights to the moon! Now don’t get too excited these won’t be happening for a few years (the projected start date is to be 2020) and will probably be inaccessible to you or I with regards to cost! (unless you have a spare £930 million in the bank?) But the wheels are in motion and by heck it’s interesting! So how does this relate to the law?

Well for starters Sunderland uni is the only university in the UK to offer Space law as one of its optional undergraduate LL.B Law modules (there are other space law modules but these are part of a more specialist space studies programme) which in-itself makes the programme unique, and is taught by Dr Chris Newman who is an expert in the field.
Over the past week Chris has participated in numerous interviews discussing the legal implications regarding commercial flights to the moon. The main legal dilemma relating to these flights is that there are currently no set laws regarding what happens after launch, there are set rules regulating the launch and re-entry (found in the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act 2004) but in-between is “lawless” and what Chris describes it in his BBC Radio 4 interview as “What we currently have is a Space where there is no established norms of law,” in effect anyone can land on the moon and send commercial flights up there as long as they adhere to the regulations stipulated regarding launch and re-entry, in-between those times anything can be done by anyone, no one company or business will have sovereignty over the moon (Outer Space Treaty 1967 prohibits this).

This is a fascinating area that is likely to develop drastically over the next century to be applicable to space tourism and travel and as Chris stated “We’re seeing an embryonic legal system emerge, where we will start to see terrestrial law bleeding into extra-terrestrial matters,”  and I can’t wait to see and hear about its developments 😀


For more information listen to Dr Chris Newman’s full Radio 4 interview follow the link below

Or read the University of Sunderland’s mini news story:

Even follow Chris’s Space Law blog:


Thanks also to Dr Chris Newman’s permission to write this short blog post on these exciting issues.


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Student Profile:

  • Name: Karina Rooney
  • Age: 19
  • Studying: LLB Law
  • Hometown: Sedgefield
  • Ambitions: To complete a master’s degree in Criminal Law and become an academic

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