October 28, 2011
Cost Of Spacecraft Insurance Likely To Rise
The London Institute of Space Policy and Law director said recently that the cost of insuring spacecraft in Earth's orbit is likely to rise, according to a report by The Guardian.
Legal experts said that the second unscheduled re-entry of a spacecraft into Earth's atmosphere within a month highlights the growing danger of space debris.
Professor Sa'id Mosteshar, director of the London Institute of Space Policy and Law, said there is a greater chance of collisions because lower orbits closer to Earth become more congested with communication and observation satellites.
"At the moment the cost of insuring the launch [of a rocket] is much higher than for its life in orbit, but the balance is going to change as the risk becomes greater," he told a seminar.
"There's a lot more junk from launched systems floating around. It's exponential. The more chunks going around the greater the risk of collision. Traveling at 17,500mph, you don't need too big a piece to cause serious damage."
The German satellite Rosat fell from orbit and hurtled back to Earth across the Bay of Bengal on Sunday, just a month after NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) crashed into the Pacific Ocean.
The owners of any spacecraft have a liability for all damage inflicted on Earth, but any collision between two satellites is a question of who was at fault.
The USSR paid out 3 million Canadian dollars in 1978 after a nuclear-powered spacecraft contaminated part of Canada's northern territories.
The series seminar of "Risks Associated with Space Activity" has a goal to "inform and engage those invalid in space activities, policy makers and lawyers who advice them," according to its website.
The final seminar will deal with policy and regulatory issues affecting areas other than those related to spectrum.
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