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European and Commercial Perspectives of Space Law


Course objectives
The course aims to provide students with knowledge of the various commercial space applications and the issues surrounding the regulation of commercial and ‘NewSpace’ activities, such as space resource utilization, satellite constellations and innovative applications of space technology, which raise issues that are not clearly addressed in international space law. The course focuses on steps undertaken by the United Nations, individual States and international community to address these gaps. The emergence of new activities and new actors also raises new oncerns, such as a ‘goldrush’ for space resources or congestion and collisions in low earth orbit. Efforts to address these concerns will be outlined in conjunction with the current industrial practice, through examples and case studies. The course will also adress the importance of building capacity and raising awareness, and other (regional) actors that play a role, such as the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Union (EU) and the European space programs for satellite navigation and earth observation Galileo and Copernicus.


  • State Responsibility • State Liability • Third-party Liability Insurance • Registration of Space Objects • National Space Legislation and Implementation • Commercial Use of Space Resources • Small Satellites and Large Constellations • (Sub)Orbital Spaceflights • Space Debris • Satellite Navigation and Earth Observation • Data Privacy • Cybersecurity in Space • NewSpace Activities

Learning outcomes
Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:

  • Give examples of commercial and ‘NewSpace’ activities and indicate the legal issues they raise

  • Describe the efforts undertaken on national and international level to solve the issues raised by those activities.

  • List the main features of national space legislation and at the European level;

  • Explain the roles of ESA and the EU, and Europe’s role the space sector;

  • Apply the relevant space laws and policies and solve practical case studies;

  • Undertake an individual research project in the field of space law.

International Institute of Air and Space Law (IIASL)
Law School, Leiden University
Steenschuur 25, 2311 ES Leiden, Netherlands
Postal address: P.O. Box 9520, 2300 RA Leiden, Netherlands
Phone : +31 71 527 8081
Website: www.iiasl.aero
Contact: airandspace@law.leidenuniv.nl

Methods of instruction
Lectures: This course consists of approximately 20 lectures
Required preparation: Students are required to read the applicable chapters from Introduction to Space Law.

The lecturers make extensive use of interactive teaching, thus encouraging the students to exercise their comprehension and understanding and their verbal techniques. The course requires students to give a presentation and write a research paper. This encourages them to make extensive use of the libraries of Leiden University and other law libraries as well as online research tools.

Course materials
Introduction to Space Law, T. Masson-Zwaan and M. Hofmann, Kluwer 2019 and handouts


  • For face-to-face students, the course is assessed by means of an oral presentation (50%) and a written paper (50%).

  • Blended learning students work on assignments to be submitted via email. The course is successfully passed if an average of 6 among the assignments is obtained. No exam is required if a weighted average of 6 is obtained for the assignments.

Course requirements
Master degree in law