ABSTRACT

Private commercial spaceflight is going to move people faster and higher than ever before using stronger propulsion technologies. Some of the vehicles being developed for the purpose look like, even partially operate as, aircraft, others look and function like spacecraft.

Thus, the primary issue is whether to regulate such activities as spaceflight, aviation or any possible combination of both. Air law’s detailed and well-weathered international and national regulation has made it one of the safest modes of transportation – yet, may turn out to be crushing an infant industry and/or to be inadequate. Space law, by contrast, is still somewhat in its infant stages, yet is very much tuned into the risky realities of new technological adventures and private entrepreneurs willing to invest in them.

The chapter will address this overarching issue considering both the current and soon-to-be technical and operational realities and the current status of both air law and space law. It will focus on such issues as responsibilities and liabilities, licensing and certification, traffic management and the application of criminal law, and the most sensible regulatory approach to commercial spaceflight, so that Citius, Altius, Fortius will not also come to mean Pericolosius, Stultius, Inaestimabilis.