The current space law paradigm came into existence when two major national powers were vying for supremacy after a catastrophic world war. The nuclear age had dawned. The United Nations drafted and ratified the Outer Space Treaty under these conditions with limited foresight to the specific nature of future space activities. As more nations and private actors enter the space arena, the nature of the weapons used in space has changed, and the number of targets and opportunities for collateral damage has greatly increased.
This Note looks at the weapons aimed at space and the laws that try to govern them. Between the United Nations Charter, the Law of Armed Conflict, and the Outer Space Treaty, this Note argues that debris-causing, non-nuclear weapons are forbidden by Article IV of the Outer Space Treaty (among others) as weapons of mass destruction. The legality of these weapons is a critical question as more and more of society depends on orbital infrastructure in their daily lives, and the population in orbit, who are directly at risk from space weapons, is only going to increase in the future.
Jeffrey A. Murphy,
The Cold Vacuum of Arms Control in Outer Space: Can Existing Law Make Some Anti-Satellite Weapons Illegal?,
68 Clev. St. L. Rev.
available at https://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/clevstlrev/vol68/iss1/9