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A Regulatory Scheme for the Dawn of Space Tourism

By: Molly M. McCue

Today, companies like Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic have successfully launched paying customers into space, forging the future of the space tourism industry. While a growing space tourism industry promotes scientific advancement and opens an activity once reserved for trained astronauts to the public, the industry generates new issues and reveals the vulnerabilities of international space law. This Note explores the history of commercial spaceflight and the international agreements that comprise the current legal regime.

It argues that space tourism presents a need for a new international agreement to address three vulnerabilities in the current international regime: environmental protections, protections for space tourists, and regulations for commercial spaceflight companies. This Note draws on the examples of the Antarctic Treaty System, the Treaty for Amazonian Cooperation, and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to show how this new international agreement can successfully balance promoting the growth of commercial spaceflight while ensuring the environment and passengers are adequately protected.


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