What are the laws and treaties that govern activities in outer space?

  • $\begingroup$ Some additional insight might be available at Jurisdiction over crime in space and What if any US laws apply on the ISS? and some additional insight here might be beneficial there as well! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Nov 12, 2020 at 0:49
  • $\begingroup$ It seems that some the answers to this question provide the same treaties, yet indicate different years. Can someone clarify? $\endgroup$
    – Krumuvecis
    Nov 12, 2020 at 15:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Krumuvecis if you spot some differences then it will be most helpful if you leave a comment under each post listing the specific differences. That way each post's author will receive a notification of your comment and their attention will be called to the issue. Chances are low that either answer's author will see your comment here. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Nov 12, 2020 at 23:02

3 Answers 3


The five main treaties governing activities in outer space are:

Manuals currently being discussed are:

  • Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space (MILAMOS), launched in 2016, to developed through Mc Gill University in Canada, to develop a widely-accepted manual clarifying the fundamental rules applicable to the military use of outer space in peacetime.
  • The Woomera Manual, to apply when armed conflict occurs.
  • The Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare may also be applicable if cyber warfare is conducted in outer space.

Additional reading:

What is the Woomera Manual and how might it help stop a war in space?

A guide to ensure everyone plays by the same military rules in space: the Woomera Manual

The Woomera Manual

The Tallinn Manual and Space Law

Tallinn Manual 2.0 on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Operations

Military Space Operations and International Law


The major international agreements include:

In addition, there's the 1979 Moon Treaty, which hasn't been widely ratified, so lacks any real legal force.

The Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015 allows space mining by US businesses.


There are also a raft of domestic laws, depending on what country you are operating from. Those tend to relate to things like safety of operations, avoiding radio frequency interference, and national security controls (e.g. export controls, restrictions on Earth imaging, etc.)


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