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Advanced Introduction to Space Law

Frans G. von der Dunk

Frans von der Dunk, a leading authority on space law, presents a nuanced introduction to the topic, explaining the legal rules, rights and obligations applicable to activities in outer space and activities that precede operations in space. He analyzes the interaction of these elements as well as how international organizations relate to the core tenets of space legislation.
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The ‘Southern’ part of the first ring of space law

Frans G. von der Dunk


Almost as soon as technological developments allowed the use of more advanced means than talking and writing for intra-human communications, the potential possibilities and ramifications also for long-distance, including as relevant international, communications became visible. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), not accidentally one of the oldest truly international intergovernmental organizations, was established in 1865 basically to address those ramifications.241

At first limited to telegraph technology (originally, ‘ITU’ stood for ‘International Telegraph Union’), it soon came to encompass also wireless communication technologies using the radio frequency spectrum. In other words, in the context of ITU an international regime handling international communications had already been developed well before the possibilities became apparent of using satellites in outer space as part of the infrastructure used for such communications.242

It was only in 1957, following Sputnik-1, that the ITU system came to be confronted with the need to address the use of radio waves to communicate with extra-terrestrial objects, soon to include astronauts and cosmonauts. At the World Administrative Radio Conference (WARC) of 1959, consequently, the ITU member States formally acknowledged that the ITU was the appropriate body to handle the international aspects of the use of radio waves in the context of outer space, integrating them into the larger operational environment of long-distance communications.

The first aspect that needs to be understood is that in that context radio waves soon came to be used for two fundamentally different purposes.

One was the need...

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