What are the laws and treaties that govern activities in outer space?
The five main treaties governing activities in outer space are:
- the 1967 Outer Space Treaty,
- the 1967 astronaut Rescue Agreement,
- the 1972 Liability Convention,
- the 1974 Registration Convention and
- the 1979 Moon Convention.
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.
The major international agreements include:
- The 1967 Outer Space Treaty
- The 1967 Agreement on Rescue and Return
- The 1972 Space Liability Convention
- The 1974 Convention on Registration
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.)