The Space Law Games: Establishing fault in orbital operations

Christopher Newman, Ralph Dinsley, Selcuk Evirgen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper will explore the need for both codification of the norms for safe sustainable satellite operations and clarity on protocols for evidence gathering in cases where some form of incident has resulted in damage to a space asset and fault may be an issue. The rise of very large constellations and other developments, such as active debris removal and on-orbit servicing procedures means there will be more data than ever produced regarding the orbital environment. All of this is going to be needed to be tracked so as to monitor the increasing activity occurring in space. The provision of corroborated information, which removes as much ambiguity as possible about the position of objects in orbit, is crucial to both safe and sustainable satellite operations. This discussion will identify that a way in which this could be achieved is by the use of “space law games”, which combine military wargaming and legal mooting. In these games, fictional complex scenarios could highlight some of the key operational and legal issues that might need to be dealt with. The identification of the gaps in the data provided by the fictional ‘law game’ scenario will locate possible areas of enhancement in SSA capacity and also highlight some of the problems in evidence gathering using the data that is currently available. Given the absence of litigation in respect of fault in space, the paper will demonstrate how the space law games will highlight ways to fill the data gap that currently exists in orbital operations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-147
Number of pages7
JournalJBIS - Journal of the British Interplanetary Society
Issue number5
Early online date15 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2020


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