Registration of Space Objects


by Claudiu Mihai Taiatu

It is of the essence of the provisions of Art. VIII OST that for retaining jurisdiction and control over an object launched in outer space, a State must register it. More clarifications are brought by the provisions of the Registration Convention which entered into force in 1976. At international level, the UN has delegated to UNOOSA the responsibility for maintaining the Register of objects launched into outer space. The registration on space objects is submitted by States, namely by the Permanent Missions to the UN in Vienna. The provisions of Art. IV of the Registration Convention stipulates what should include the data provided. Overall, this UN Register supports the identification of States bearing international responsibility and liability for space objects.

by Stephan Hobe

Registration of objects is a common mechanism in order to safeguard the control of a state in case that the object leaves its territory. Vessels are registered, airplanes are registered and space objects are equally registered. This registration always guarantees an extension of the home states jurisdiction in case the object leaves the territory. For this reason on board a vessel flying a certain flag, on board an airplane and on board a space object like a rocket or the International Space Station the law of the country of registration is applicable. As specifically, concerns the registration of space objects the requirements according of Article VII of the Outer Space Treaty and the Registration Convention are relatively inconcrete. States are under the obligation to open a national registry in case they have launched a space objet into Earth orbit or beyond. What exactly shall be the contents of the registry is however, not mentioned. Moreover, after the launch the state of registry shall transmit certain data like the name of the launching state or states, the registration number, the date and territory or location of the launch and basic orbital parameters as well as some idea of the general function of the space object to the Secretary General of the United Nations, situated in Vienna. However, no consequences of non-honoring the obligations contained in the registration convention are spelled out there. In view of the increasing importance of knowledge about the registration and the flight route of the space object in future times a sharpening and strengthening of the requirements of registration is urgently required.