Colliding satellites – let’s exchange insurance details

A couple of satellites recently collided in space. Both were totally destroyed (although I believe the Russian one was defunct. The other was American).

Now it costs a lot of money to get a piece of kit into orbit around the earth, an awful lot. Assuming that both those satellites were commercial functioning pieces of equipment, what is the legal status of them? Is there a grand space traffic control system which maps the orbits of everything that is intentionally launched into space, or is it a free for all similar to the situation in the early days of aviation? It was only when two aeroplanes collided in mid air (over New York I believe) that people started to discuss an air traffic control concept.

Presumably if there is a space traffic control system, one of the satellites must have been rogue. If that is the case, can the other satellite owners sue the other party for loss of earnings, equipment etc? Because if the box is essential for some service, it is going to need replacing at a cost of… how much is it to put a box in space?

Can you insure against such a loss? And what about all the junk that is floating around in space? If a paint flake or lost spanner slams into one of your pristine communications satellite – who’s responsible for that? Is it just bad luck?

I believe people can buy land on the moon. Is there some international agreement about space ownership? Can anyone place a satellite in orbit, even Al Queda? Can it become a space-fill – come and dump your atomic waste here? Who’s to stop you doing it?

It seems to me an international government is going to have to be proposed at some point. This recent financial debacle is a case in point; it’s going to need co-operation between nations to fix it thoroughly and to stop it from happening again. Also, the whole climate change/population growth issue is going to need a world wide consensus.

Who’d like to be President of the world?

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