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The Rescue Agreement

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The Rescue Agreement

More recently, discussions on the possibility of applying the rules of rescue and return of astronauts in the development of so-called space tourism have been revived. Should users of private space also be protected by the ARRA, which, together with the former OST, grants them a special status under international law? While ARRA claims to protect the “personnel of a spaceship,” the OST refers to them as “messengers of humanity.” The rescue agreement has been criticized for being vague, particularly in terms of the definition of the saved and the definition of what constitutes a spacecraft and its components. The lack of practical application of ARRA with respect to astronauts in distress is due to factual and legal reasons. In the first, there were serious accidents quickly that did not allow time to rescue or rescue. As far as the latter are concerned, emergency situations that are resigned in space will not be the responsibility of the ARRA. In addition, the rescue of astronauts in space is only possible if a standby rescue vehicle can reach astronauts in distress in time to provide assistance, which is not a realistic scenario in the current state of space. The scope of the ARRA is limited to astronauts who have landed on Earth and need help. Although this has not yet occurred in practice, this may change with the development and improvement of technology, including new flexible landing systems and reusable space vehicles. Bearing in mind Resolution 2260 (XXII) of 3 November 7, 1967, which calls on the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space to continue its work on the development of an agreement on liability for damage caused by the firing of objects into space and an agreement to assist and return astronauts and emergency space vehicles, the relevance of an international treaty is measured not only by the rationality, coherence and scope of its conditions, but also by the extent to which it is actually implemented. Transposition within the framework of international treaties concerns both the transposition into the legal order, i.e. by nation states in their national jurisdictions, and the implementation of facts, situations or disputes.

The 1968 rescue agreement now reflects broad consensus on the procedures that should apply to the rescue of astronauts, the return of astronauts and the return of space objects. When information is received or if it is established that the personnel of a spacecraft have arrived on the high seas or in another place under the jurisdiction of a state, the contracting parties that are able to do so renew, if necessary, the assistance to the search and rescue operations of that personnel in order to ensure their rapid rescue. They inform the launch authority and the Secretary-General of the United Nations of the steps they have taken and their progress. The 2002 agreement also introduces an additional distinction between crew members, namely “expedition crew members” and “crew members.” These two categories can be either “professional astronauts/cosmonauts” or “space flight participants.” The “expedition crew” are “the primary crew of the ISS and are responsible for carrying out the planned activities in a single step.” Each participating space agency has the right to have its candidates served as expedition crew members.