Autonomous Space Objects and International Space Law: Navigating the Liability Gap

Ioana Bratu, Arno R. Lodder, Tina van der Linden


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The introduction of advanced new technologies is transforming the space industry. Artificial intelligence is offering unprecedented possibilities for space-related activities because it enables space objects to gain autonomy. The increasing autonomy level of space objects does not come without legal implications. The lack of human control challenges existing liability frameworks. This paper reviews the provisions of the Outer Space Treaty and the Liability Convention as the main legal documents introducing the legal grounds for attributing liability in case of damages caused by autonomous space objects. Looking at the limitations of these legal frameworks in what concerns the attribution of liability, this paper identifies the conditions that could cause a liability gap. The amendment of the Liability Convention, the concept of “international responsibility” introduced by Article VI of the Outer Space Treaty and several international law principles are analysed as potential solutions for preventing the liability gap and mitigating the risks posed by autonomous space objects.


artificial intelligence; autonomous space object; liability; responsibility; Liability Convention; Outer Space Treaty

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