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«LEGAL AND ETHICAL FRAMEWORK FOR ASTRONAUTS IN SPACE SOJOURNS Proceedings 29 October 2004 House of UNESCO 125, avenue de Suffren, Paris 7e Legal and ...»

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Farand conluded that the initiative for the development of rules is still with the partners of the ISS; each state has a role to play by changing its national law so that it reflects its jurisdiction and control over the installations he provided; a larger involvement of the private sector will strengthen its influence on the making of rules.

Prof. Peter Redfield, Anthropologist of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA, started his reflections emphasizing that the paradigm of former conquests might not be the most appropriate for the conquest of outer space. The burden to define what infractions constitute a crime in outer space will fall primarily on a small group of individuals living and working in close proximity, and it will then require ethical judgment before any legal judgment. There are effects both on the cohesiveness and morals of the crew and on the public image of the programme.

Many behaviors are at the border between crime and bad behavior. Alongside criminal conduct we need to consider procedures enacted in the name of justice, such as how to treat a suspect.

What is at stake here, Prof. Redfield concluded, is a general attitude towards space, and the degree to which future human activity in it will mirror the unhappy legacy of early periods of human expansion, or actually define a new and more hopeful area.

There was a question about harassment and cultural issues, to which Mr. Farand responded that nothing in existing rules addresses these issues. Another intervention was about intellectual property and the status of the inventor in space, to which Mr. Farand responded that there was no simple response and a lot of debates on the issue, but that the general idea was so far that terrestrial rules are applied unless otherwise agreed between the participants. Mr. Tort noticed that this issue was made more complicated by the development of non professional astronauts.

Mr. Tognini noticed that there are numerous little findings at each flight, that are implemented in following flights. Another question was, whether the commander may enforce the law on the station, to which Mr. Farand responded that the code gives “the authority to use all reasonable means” to this end, and that flight rules are needed here. Another question was about the control of the information disseminated to the astronauts. Mr. Duque responded that astronauts on mission are only informed about things that may influence the mission, which may indeed cause ethical problems. To a question about the interest of flying to space, Mr. Duque also responded

Legal and ethical framework for astronauts in space sojourns

that there are nice experiences, such as microgravity, viewing the earth, the scientific level of participants, and that the long training makes difficult life conditions quite manageable. Another question was about the possibility of the ultimate sacrifice, and Mr. Duque acknowledged that strong motivation is needed and is indeed present with astronauts. Some, however, have been to space and do not want to go again. Another question was about the constitution of crews and their ability to get along together. There are, Mr. Duque said, psychological and sociological evaluations, whose results are not known by the astronauts. A question was asked about the preparation of space tourists, to which Mr. Tognini specified that they do have accelerated training, but insignificant compared to that of professional astronauts. Mr. Farand also referred to the document on criteria for the ISS crew on this issue.

Liability and Insurance coverage Mr. Guillaume de Dinechin, Executive Vice-President of International Space Brokers, France, explained the rules governing liability in space, namely the liability convention and the IGA for the ISS. He then explained that insurance for damages to third parties is generally mandatory up to 100 to 500 m$, the damage in excess being covered by the launching state, whereas participants in mission are free to take insurance for their own damage. He then explained the issue of the coverage of astronauts, as regards their possible injury or death, or the damage they may cause. About tourism, there are also three different issues: coverage of their own risk, liabilities towards other participants in the mission, and third party liability. The liability convention always applies and the IGA may or may not apply. Issues regarding coverage of their own risks for space tourists regard possible injury or death and cancellation insurance. There is a legal regime established for the ISS, Mr. de Dinechin concluded, but with little experience, and tourism is the next frontier, with issues on the policy of the governments and the reaction of insurance markets.

Mr. Julien Tort, programme specialist of the Division of Ethics of Science and Technology of UNESCO reflected on the possibility of an insurance market for manned space flights. If it was possible, it would mean that the cost/advantage ratio of space flights has significantly improved.

There would be an adverse selection effect that would favor the most dangerous players to enter the field and dissuade the safest ones. This may result not only in a waste of resources but also in an increase of the global risk. More generally, the situation regarding liability and insurance reflects that there still is a pioneering and public service spirit at the roots of manned flights, as can be judged from the liability agreement, the IGA, or the insurance practices to trust the good faith of the launchers. In conclusion, space law is unfit to space tourism, the very legitimacy of which may be questioned. Furthermore, the development of an insurance market for manned flights requests the development of adequate control and information mechanisms; the issue of the global and social costs, including the opportunity cost of such flights deserves to be raised;

and one may wonder how the liability would apply to celestial bodies or extraterrestrial life.

One participant emphasized that some people question the validity of the exoneration of liability of the cross waiver agreement. He also emphasized the interest of the liability convention, which, by making states liable, ensures reparation (which is not the case for boats, for instance).

Furthermore, he added, the liability convention does not exclude personal liability or responsibility. Mr. De Dinechin emphasized that, while several risks may legally be insured, it is financially impossible. There is no market, he specified, for insurance in excess of 500 m$, and hence, no real market for damage to third parties. The issue arises, for example, for low orbit satellites. A participant wondered about the action of UNESCO in this field, about ethics and bioethics in outer space. Mr. Tort responded by mentioning the mandate of UNESCO to prepare a feasibility study on an international instrument on the ethics of outer space. As regards

Legal and ethical framework for astronauts in space sojourns

bioethics, he mentioned the issues of genetic engineering in micro-gravity and genetic manipulation on ET material. He also recalled that the normative action was one of the three kinds of actions UNESCO intends to execute in ethics of outer space next to awareness-raising and international cooperation.

Conclusion Dr. Adigun Ade Abiodun, Chairman of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN-COPUOS) and rapporteur of the conference made a summary of the day, followed by a personal final statement. Each country, he said, must commit itself to principles in the use of space. In Southeastern Asia, only Japan, he said, has a Space policy. As most legal international instruments are still to be enforced by member states, the issue is, how to get states to design space policies and law? When this is implemented, the ethical debate will follow naturally.

–  –  –

It was with great pleasure that I agreed to take part in this symposium. I am delighted to see that the legal and ethical dimensions of living in outer space can command the attention of such a magnificent international gathering!

I very much welcome this initiative. I should first like to thank the organisers of this symposium:

the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST), a UNESCO advisory body; the European Centre for Space Law (ECSL); the Legal Department of the European Space Agency (ESA); and the Institut du Droit de l’Espace et des Télécommunications (IDEST) of the Faculté Jean Monnet (Université Paris-Sud).

Congratulations to all of them on having proposed this multidisciplinary approach and on having brought together this international audience. I would particularly like to thank UNESCO's Paris Headquarters for playing host to this event.

In this context, I feel duty-bound to acknowledge the part played by my predecessor, Antonio Rodotà. For it was he who initiated the work now being done on the ethics of outer space activities and the cooperation between ESA and UNESCO in this field.

The issue of human space flight is one that is very dear to me personally, since at the beginning of my career in 1977, I applied to join the ESA astronaut programme.

Human space flight has significantly marked the history of space exploration. Humanity reached outer space in 1961, with Yuri Gagarin becoming the first astronaut to complete an orbital space flight mission. This was achieved just four years after the launch of Sputnik, the first artificial Earth satellite, launched in 1957.

The European Space Agency’s involvement in human space flight dates back to the 1970s, to the time of Spacelab. That project provided the opportunity for the first ESA astronauts to be selected in 1978.

Many successful missions followed. All this led to the establishment in March 1998 of a single European Astronaut Corps. The objective was to improve the management of the organisational set-up with regard to the International Space Station programme, in which ESA was and is playing a major role.

Legal and ethical framework for astronauts in space sojourns

Human space missions continue to captivate the attention and spur the imagination of people all over the world. But beyond that, such missions have produced some remarkable results. From the scientific viewpoint, experimentation in outer space is pushing back the boundaries of human knowledge in many different fields, such as fluid mechanics, biology and physiology, to name but a few. At the same time, from the technical viewpoint, human space missions have spurred technological advances, challenging engineers to improve the performance, security and comfort of crewed space vehicles.

Thanks to astronaut missions, we now have a changed perception of planet Earth. We have eventually come to understand that the Earth is one planet, that it is unique and that it is just one very small part of the universe. And here we must surely mention the fact that the ability to view the Earth from the perspective of outer space has enabled us to develop better approaches to ecology, to the protection of natural resources and to better defining environmental interests and the challenges that lie ahead.

But human space missions clearly have, above all, a human dimension. Since the very beginnings of human civilisation, men and women have ventured out to explore and to settle in remote and hostile environments, in new lands, initially by walking, and then gradually by using such means of transport as provided by the technology of the time - from carriages, to ships, trains and aircraft.

Our society has greatly benefited from the endeavours of pioneering astronauts and their discoveries in outer space. Astronauts have always carried out their mission as "envoys of mankind" with courage and commitment, even in the direst of circumstances.

Aside from the immediate appeal that astronauts clearly have for people all over the world, the exploration of outer space has now become a major goal and – strange as it may seem – a means too of preserving our life here on planet Earth. As a consequence, human space exploration missions are certainly set to become increasingly common over the coming years.

Astronaut activities take place in a complex, international legal framework. This includes various instruments. There are the United Nations space treaties: in particular, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty (OST) and the 1968 Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts. Then there are the various agreements that govern the assembly and exploitation of the International Space Station: the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA), the Memoranda of Understanding and the Crew Code of Conduct, to mention but a few.

The International Space Station represents a milestone in international cooperation on space programmes. It is a remarkable technical achievement that enables astronauts to live in outer space over sustained periods. The ISS is a purpose-built ecosystem within which the astronauts are obliged to form a community, in time and space. This is why the regime governing the Space Station is so extremely complicated and involves legal issues such as jurisdiction and control, criminal conduct, liability and insurance cover.

Moreover, the occupants of the Space Station are subject to great physical stress. Weightlessness enormously complicates the business of daily life, from eating to sleeping. Outside the protective shield of the Earth’s atmosphere, astronauts have to contend with high levels of radiation which can increase the risk of cancer. Human physiology plays an important part in the activity carried out onboard. Indeed, living in space in fact means living with a distinct lack of space! The individual crew members are obliged to share the available space with each other for months at a time.

Legal and ethical framework for astronauts in space sojourns

Yet despite all this, there is still no shortage of candidates for astronaut positions. Moreover, following recent technical and financial developments in the sector, space activities are now entering a brand new era. An era in which new private players will increasingly often team up with the more traditional governmental bodies and international organisations. As part of all this, the age of space tourism has now dawned and this dream has become a household concept.

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