Regulating Satellite Constellations

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Human space activities in the 21st century have undergone a series of significant and fundamental changes. Advances in the use of novel materials, miniaturisation of key technology, and a concomitant development of computing power has seen a revolution in the application of small satellites. This in turn has led to their increased ubiquity in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), and the use of a large number of satellites operating synchronously in satellite constellations. satellite constellations are comprised of hundreds – and in some cases thousands – of small satellites that are cheap to manufacture. The promise of launch, priced at a point that is cheap enough to sustain deployment and renewal of a large-scale constellation, a production line of cheap satellites, and a market hungry for connectivity looks set to herald a revolution in the telecommunications industry. Nonetheless, despite the potential of unparalleled connectivity facilitated by these constellations, there are a host of associated legal, environmental, and organisational difficulties. This chapter will examine these issues, because the contemporary space sector has moved on significantly from the era of signing international space treaties. Indeed, the concept of networked satellites was not explicitly dealt with in the original tranche of international treaties that form the core principles of space law. Yet the launch industry has evolved to provide cheap and easy access to LEO, and there is now a significant strain placed on the Radio Frequency (RF) Spectrum, due in part to the unprecedented numbers of satellites in these constellations which heightens the need for increased coordination between States and operators in respect of both orbital operations and end of life protocols.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Business of Outer Space: Commercial and Legal Issues
EditorsMaria Pozza, Joel Dennerley
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
Number of pages21
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 13 Jun 2024

Publication series

NameSpace Law and Policy

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