Alex S. Li


For the space tourism industry, 2021 represented a giant leap forward: three different privately-developed commercial spacecrafts made their tourism debut. With space tourism launching to new heights, several legal issues surrounding this sector can no longer be ignored. The emerging industry is also raising new policy considerations. This Article fills this void by examining the pressing legal and policy issues that surround space tourism’s coming-of-age.

The Article begins by looking at space tourism’s past. It chronicles the companies, the missions, and the passengers that have formed the industry’s foundation so far. The Article then shifts to space tourism’s present. It focuses on three major legal issues facing this industry as it continues to develop: (a) the legal status of space tourists—where this Article argues that space tourists will not be entitled to the same status as "astronauts" or "personnel of a spacecraft;" (b) the applicability of aviation laws—where this Article concludes that the industry should only be governed by Outer Space laws; and (c) the passenger liability regime for space tourism—where this Article advocates for a transformation. After this discussion, the Article turns to space tourism’s future. It suggests three policy areas that should be addressed as Outer Space travel becomes more mainstream: (i) standardization of passenger training; (ii) protection of outer space heritage sites; and (iii) promotion of this common province of humanity. By highlighting these legal and policy areas, this Article hopes that space tourism will become safer and more accessible for all.