Professor Mark Sundahl was quoted in a recent Forbes article titled “Russian Space Junk Slammed Into A Chinese Satellite, Says U.S. Space Force.”
The U.S. Space Force reported that a Chinese weather satellite collided with remnants of a Russian rocket that had been launched in 1996. The article noted that the “incident raises an interesting question: can China sue Russia for damaging its spacecraft? This could be the first time such a claim has been pursued.”
For an answer to this novel legal question, Forbes turned to Professor Sundahl, a leading international expert on Space Law, and the Director of C|M|LAW’s Global Space Law Center.
Professor Sundahl explained, “An international treaty, the Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects, applies when the ‘space object’ of one country causes harm to the ‘space object’ of another country. However, in order to find liability under the convention, there must be a determination of ‘fault’ on behalf of the offending country.” He noted that “What exactly would constitute ‘fault’ has not been settled under international law. China would have to prove negligence or similar bad behavior.”