Space objects that transform into space debris and stay for a long time in orbit are a threat to humans and operational space objects in outer space. Such space debris objects have no capabilities on-board to move them out of valuable orbital areas. Only external space systems with special design can capture and remove them, generally referred to as ‘Active Debris Removal’.
Given the present trend of an accelerated increase of space debris, Active Debris Removal is urgently required for the sustainable use of outer space. However, Active Debris Removal faces legal and political challenges. Have States a legal duty to remove their own space debris objects? Can a State remove the space debris object of another State without its prior consent? Which liabilities arise when an Active Debris Removal operation goes wrong?