Are there any laws limiting the production of Space Junk, like there would be laws preventing a company from putting their waste in the ocean?

1 Answer 1


There is currently no direct limit. First, under the Space Liability Convention, a nation bears responsibility for an object launched from its territory. Accordingly, the Soviet Union was billed for $3M because of the crash of Kosmos 954 in Canada. A thing is not "space junk" initially, so "space junk" is not a thing that is produced in the normal sense (cars and computers are produced). Any restrictions on space debris would therefore have to be either in terms of the number of items a country could launch (there is no provision for such a limit), or requirements regarding what must be done when something becomes "space junk". The existing liability law is a country-to-country liability law, and if a Virgin Moon ship lands on your house or on Russia, neither you nor Russia can sue Virgin Moon. Russia might sue the US, if it was launched from the US.

In the case of such a suit, the respondent nation has to have been negligent, and there are no standards for determining negligence. Also, actually proving the origin of a bolt is not trivial, plus, the recourse is via damage caused by the bolt, not the simple fact of there being a bolt.

There is some law in the US (SPACE Act of 2015) which addresses private launches (the bill is here).

  • Especially when the bolt is still in orbit and your metallurgical lab is on Earth
    – Dale M
    Jan 6, 2018 at 0:37

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