The 2020 Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition Problem is published below. Please contact your regional organizer for more information. Publication of registration details will follow soon.
Find the 2020 Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition Problem here:
Valenkova v SaRidia
Synopsis of the Case
Case Concerning Jurisdiction and Control in Outer Space, Space Situational Awareness, and Orbital Debris
The year is 2040. Earth missions to and through space are regular and represent a wide range of activities that benefit those still living on Earth as well as the humans that have chosen to explore and work on other celestial bodies and habitats in space. Space transportation has matured since the days of single use launch vehicles; reusability is routine and built into all mission models.
The Space Station Hypatia is a permanently crewed civil space station for peaceful purposes in accordance with international law. The partners are the Republic of SaRidia, the Confederation of Valenkova, the Chimuk Nation and, the Haigeran Union. At the time of the events that led to this case, there were two governmental astronauts from each partner on board. There was also a private astronaut on board.
Station personnel received conjunction data messages from two different providers. The messages were intended to aid in the guidance and control of the station. The two messages were in conflict as to the severity and imminence of the hazard posed to the station by a piece of orbital debris. One provider described a low-valued probability of a collision and assessed that the probability of harm to the station did not warrant any action. The other message made it clear that a collision was almost certain in the absence of any change.
Members of the crew disagreed on the validity and meaning of the messages and the action they required. The Commander chose to evacuate. One crewmember disagreed and secured herself in a transfer vehicle at the station which she ultimately piloted to her home country. The evacuating Commander and crew collided with space debris, resulting in loss of a life. These facts provide the foundation of the problem’s legal issues that include liability, extradition, and unauthorized use of spacecraft.