Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

Space Law: The Law of Outer Space

This guide provides an introduction to researching the law that governs outer space.

Introduction to Space Law Research

Space law is the body of law that regulates objects and activities beyond the Earth's atmosphere.  Initially, it emerged as a subset of public international law, consisting primarily of treaties and soft law instruments that govern the conduct of state actors.  Over time, space law has expanded to encompass domestic laws and regulations enacted by national governments, as well as private international law, which governs relations among non-state actors of different nationalities.

This guide is designed to help researchers identify relevant secondary sources (treatises, books, and journal articles) about space law and to quickly locate the full texts of primary law materials, including treaties and soft law instruments at the international level, and domestic laws and regulations at the national level.  It also provides links to the websites of relevant intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, national and regional space agencies, selected U.S. government agencies, and specialized news sources.

Key Resources for Space Law Research

Electronic Resources

  • Space Law Treaties & Principles
    The UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) maintains this gateway page from which you can view the full texts of the five UN treaties on outer space, current status and ratification information, and drafting histories (travaux préparatoires).  It also includes the five key principles on the use of outer space adopted by the UN General Assembly.
  • UN Treaties & Principles on Outer Space
    This subset of HeinOnline's UN Law Collection database enables you to download the full texts of the UN's five space treaties and five key principles on the use of outer space in PDF format.
  • National Space Law Collection
    UNOOSA also maintains this directory of national legislation and regulations pertaining to the exploration and use of outer space enacted in more than two dozen jurisdictions, including the U.S.  English translations of laws from non-English speaking jurisdictions are provided, if available.
  • McGill Institute of Air & Space Law Publications
    This HeinOnline database allows you to search across the full texts of articles published in the journal Annals of Air & Space Law, as well as the full texts of more than 50 books and monographs published by the McGill Institute.  By default, searches are run for articles.  To search books and monographs, select "Other Publications" from the menu bar near the top of the page.  All content is available for download in PDF format.

Print Resource

Space Law

Large Magnetic Cloud from the Hubble telescope
Public domain image (NASA) via Wikimedia Commons

Research Assistance

For assistance with space law research, visit the Research Help page of the Georgetown Law Library's website. Or contact the Law Library's International and Foreign Law Department by phone (202-662-4195) or by email ( 

Georgetown Law Center students may request a one-on-one research consultation with a librarian.

For questions about the related topic of aviation law, consult the Law Library's Aviation Law Research Guide.

Space Law

Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) Satellite
Public domain image (NASA) via Wikimedia Commons

The International Space Station
Public domain image (NASA)