With the international space station being decommissioned within the decade and other abandoned satellites what are the rules on independently saving these objects?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Has anything actually been abandoned in a long-term stable orbit which is useful and economical to claim and refurbish instead of replace? The cost of salvage would be, ahem, astronomical. $\endgroup$ May 3, 2023 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ I've submitted a vote to close as a duplicate for a related question about salvaging lunar equipment. To my knowledge the answer covers all the same ground that an answer to this would. $\endgroup$
    – Erin Anne
    May 3, 2023 at 20:35
  • $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime I'm no expert in anything maritimeish or lawish, but I think that salvage is about recovering some otherwise lost value, and is not limited to refurbishment and reuse. So if you pull an old first stage engine off of the ocean floor that didn't originally belong to you, clean it up and put it in your living room or sell it to a museum, your right to keep it for whatever reason you like might also fall under the umbrella term "salvage law". See for example Could parts be salvaged off the Apollo thrusters found on the ocean floor? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    May 3, 2023 at 22:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime, I'm sure the NSA would love to get their hands on a derelict Russian surveillance satellite. $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    May 3, 2023 at 23:22
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Mark yep, I'm sure once you've told the russians it isn't stealing, its just salvaging, they'll just sigh and nod leave you to it. $\endgroup$ May 5, 2023 at 8:35


Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.