Changing Responsibility for a Changing Environment: Revaluating the Traditional Interpretation of Article VI of the Outer Space Treaty in Light of Private Industry

Christian Joseph Robison


In recent times, private industry has made great advancements in the commercialization of outer space. Such advancement represents a monumental shift from a period in which outer space activities were the business of national governments. However, the traditional interpretation of Article VI of the Outer Space Treaty still assigns responsibility for private space activities to States despite private industry’s increased ability to conduct outer space activities without government involvement or assistance. Ultimately, the blanket application of State responsibility associated with the traditional interpretation of Article VI may be unworkable or inequitable as private industry becomes a dominant force in outer space. Therefore, this Article evaluates the shortcomings of the traditional interpretation of Article VI and proposes a solution based on the customary law of State responsibility in order to ensure that both private and public actors in outer space are unhampered by an overly broad interpretation of Article VI.


Liability; State Responsibility; Outer Space; Attribution; Private Industry

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DOI: 10.6092/issn.2531-6133/10654


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