Space Debris: A Law and Economics Analysis of the Orbital Commons

27 Pages Posted: 7 Jun 2018

See all articles by Alexander William Salter

Alexander William Salter

Texas Tech University - Rawls College of Business; American Institute for Economic Research

Date Written: 09/23/2015

Abstract

In this paper, I examine the problem of space debris—detritus from spacecraft launches that remains in orbit—using the tools of economics. The difficulties posed by space debris resemble those typically associated with public goods and common pool resources. Thus it is not surprising that a tragedy of the commons has resulted, in the form of cluttered orbits. However, given the peculiar legal arrangements that characterize space in both domestic and international law, solving this problem is not straightforward. I analyze the difficulties that both private and public actors must overcome if the space debris problem is to be solved. Although proposing a particular solution is beyond the scope of this paper, by addressing the problem from an economic perspective, I clarify the costs that must be considered in order for private and public actors to make informed decisions concerning space debris mitigation and removal.

Suggested Citation

Salter, Alexander William, Space Debris: A Law and Economics Analysis of the Orbital Commons (09/23/2015). MERCATUS WORKING PAPER. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3191395 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3191395

Alexander William Salter (Contact Author)

Texas Tech University - Rawls College of Business ( email )

Lubbock, TX 79409
United States

HOME PAGE: http://awsalter.com

American Institute for Economic Research

PO Box 1000
Great Barrington, MA 01230
United States

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