Dilemmas for Planetary Defense Posed by the Current International Law Framework

  • Nikola SchmidtEmail author
  • Martin Švec
Part of the Space and Society book series (SPSO)


The chapter opens with an introduction to the general legal regime in outer space. We are focusing on topics that are accentuated throughout the book, to discuss under what conditions various ideas would be realizable or what unintended consequences various decisions would cause. The intention of the chapter is not to complete a thorough international law analysis of planetary defense, or even to propose a legal regime, but rather to discuss topics found in the book using an international law perspective. We also show that making things happen is not necessarily based on engineering virtue, and that some legal obstacles remain in the way. Adopting a nuclear explosion method and treating it as the most effective can be true from an engineering point of view, but building lasers on the far side of the Moon could be much easier to achieve if we perceive the problem from the international law perspective.


International law Planetary defense Nuclear explosive device Weapons of mass destruction Laser ablation Asteroid mitigation methods 



This study was supported by the grant awarded by the Technological Agency of the Czech Republic, project TL01000181: “A multidisciplinary analysis of planetary defense from asteroids as the key national policy ensuring further flourishing and prosperity of humankind both on Earth and in Space,” and co-funded by the Institute of Political Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague.


  1. Al-Ekabi, C., Baranes, B., Hulsroj, P., & Lahcen, A. (2016). Yearbook on Space Policy 2014. Scholar
  2. Barbee, B. W., Syal, M. B., Dearborn, D., Gisler, G., Greenaugh, K., Howley, K. M., et al. (2018). Options and uncertainties in planetary defense: Mission planning and vehicle design for flexible response. Acta Astronautica, 143(August 2017), 37–61. Scholar
  3. Bull, H. (2002). The Anarchical Society. Columbia University Press; 3rd edition.Google Scholar
  4. Buxton, C. R. (2004). Property in Outer Space: The Common Heritage of Mankind Principle vs. the First in Time, First in Right, Rule of Property. J. Air L. & Com., 69, 689.Google Scholar
  5. Carus, S. (2006). Defining “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” 64.
  6. Evans, M. D. (2014). International Law. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Gruss, M. (2015, October 9). Russian Satellite Maneuvers, Silence Worry Intelsat. Accessed 12 July 2018
  8. Hobe, S., Schmidt-Tedd, B., & Schrogl, K. U. (2017). Cologne Commentary on Space Law: Outer Space Treaty. BWV Berliner-Wissenschaft.Google Scholar
  9. I.C.J. (1986). Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America), Merits.Google Scholar
  10. Johnson, C. D. (2018). What is allowed in outer space. Oxford University Press Blog. Accessed 12 July 2018
  11. Joyner, C. C. (1986). Legal Implications of the Concept of the Common Heritage of mankind. International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 35(01), 190–199. Scholar
  12. McDougall, W. A. (1985). The Heavens and the Earth: A Political History of the Space Age. Basic Books.Google Scholar
  13. NASA. (2007). Near-Earth Object Survey and Deflection Analysis of Alternatives. Report to congress. Washington D.C.
  14. Nasu, H. (2011). The Expanded Conception of Security and International Law: Challenges to the UN Collective Security System. Amsterdam Law Forum, 3(3), 15–31. Scholar
  15. Schmidt, N. (2017). Planetary Defense as a Gateway to Space for Commercial and Deep Space Exploration. New Space, 5(4), 219–229. Scholar
  16. Schmidt, N. (2018). The political desirability, feasibility, and sustainability of planetary defense governance. Acta Astronautica.
  17. UN. (2002). United Nations Treaties and Principles On Outer Space, related General Assembly resolutions and other documents. New York: United Nations, Office for Outer Space Affairs.
  18. United Nations. (n.d.). Draft articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, with commentaries.
  19. Werner, D. (2018, March 21). ESA to investigate links between debris removal and satellite servicing. Accessed 12 July 2018

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political Science, Institute of Political Studies, Faculty of Social SciencesCharles UniversityPragueCzech Republic
  2. 2.Masaryk UniversityBrnoCzech Republic

Personalised recommendations