Interesting interview on space law here, and a reference to the Google Lunar X PRIZE. I like that she points out regulations exist for launch and landing, but nothing for activities in between. It's not been a big concern until now, but with a growing entrepreneurial space community, we do need to think about these kinds of space law questions.
A bit from the piece:
Res Communis: Do you have any thoughts on how that law should develop? There is launch law and the law for the return.
Meredith: Yes, we do have regulations for launches and re-entries, but not for what happens in between with respect to the vehicle and payload, except in the specific areas I mentioned. There is not, as many other countries have, a sort of an “umbrella” legislation for space. In the U.S. we regulate each specific activity. So the question is, do we need regulation to cover new activities that are coming online? For example, the Google Lunar X Prize. It calls for non-government, private activity on the Moon. There are also private orbital ventures in the planning.
Whatever we do, the key is not to over-regulate, because that could stifle a fledgling industry. The key is to facilitate activity that is safe and consistent with national security and treaty obligations. The risk of not having some sort of regulatory frame-work is that, at some point, a number of regulatory agencies may decide to assert jurisdiction and that could halt a project or delay it severely. This is what happened to the first commercial launch company, Space Services, back in the early 1980s, before DOT (later delegated to the FAA) was made the focal point for licensing of commercial launches. More than 10 U.S. government agencies claimed jurisdiction over some aspect of the launch.
These are things we need to think about. The space law community needs to give thought to this.