Legal Uncertainties Related to Additive Manufacturing in Space
International Astronautical Congress, 2015 - International Institute of Space Law Symposium IAC-14.E7.2.10, Forthcoming
7 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2014 Last revised: 20 Jul 2018
Date Written: October 1, 2014
Additive manufacturing (AM), also referred to as three-dimensional printing, is a set of layer-by-layer processes for producing 3D objects directly from a digital model. Since its inception a few decades ago, the AM industry has grown to almost $3 billion as of 2012, and is poised to grow to more than $6.5 billion by 2019. While the ﬁeld has great promise for terrestrial applications, its promise in space – reduced dependence on materials transported from earth and the ability to “live off the land” – has the potential to radically transform the space enterprise. There are a number of studies underway, both supported by the government and the private sector, that examine the technical feasibility and application of AM in outer space. Most recently, the U.S. National Academy of Science (NAS) published a report that explored the implications of space-based AM technologies for space operations and the manufacture of space hardware. The NAS report focused on technological and institutional issues not legal ones, even though legal questions such as those related to use of in situ resources (e.g., using lunar regolith to additively manufacture habitat or other facilities like launch pads on the surface of the moon) for manufacturing may arise when AM is used in outer space. This paper identifies and provides an assessment of select questions under public international space law involving AM in outer space on jurisdiction and control, ownership, registration, and liability.
Keywords: additive manufacturing, 3d printing, law, policy, outer space, international law, space law, technology, public international space law, regolith, liability, ownership, control, jurisdiction
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