The Geostationary Ring

Practice and Law


The Geostationary Ring: Practice and Law addresses numerous physical aspects of this highly sought-after orbit which serves as the backbone for international satellite communications and analyses the evolution of its use, coordination and related disputes along with sovereignty claims over segments of the Geostationary Orbit.

The author, Martha Mejía-Kaiser, discusses the increasing population of this orbital region with operational spacecraft, its pollution with man-made space debris, and the upcoming active space removal by external systems. Based on empirical data, the author analyses in unprecedented detail a measurable State practice in the efforts of keeping this orbital region operational, and addresses key legal questions with regard to the benefit and interests of all nations, equitable access and its economic and rationale use.

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Martha Mejía-Kaiser, PhD in Political and Social Sciences (2003), Master in International Law (1993), is member of the Board of Directors of the International Institute of Space Law. She has published a number of articles and chapters in books on international space law.
“I had high expectations, and the author did not disappoint me….Dr. Martha Mejía-Kaiser has accomplished a daunting task with amazing effectiveness. The result of all her research is a very complete book with law, policy and practice receiving the full attention they deserve. With the help of numerous drawings, figures, graphics and tables, the author has patiently and persistently educated the reader, and with a veritable plethora of footnotes she accounts for—and further expands on—everything the main text offers....[E]verything you always wanted to know about the geostationary orbit/ring but were afraid to ask!” - Peter van Fenema, in Annals of Air and Space Law, McGill University, 2020

“If there were any doubt that the law can best be elucidated and nuances explained by case study, this well-researched work by Dr Mejía-Kaiser will put them to rest…. This is a well-written and thoughtful work that will interest not only those concerned with the geostationary ring and its use but also some of the fundamental principles of space law.” - Sa'id Mosteshar, in Space Policy, Elsevier (2022)

"In brief, this book contains much detail...Space law teachers could and probably would direct students to particular chapters or sections as supplementary to other works. However, university libraries and instituions where space law is taught should have it on their shelves. It is a good and useful contribution to the burgeoning literature of space law." - Professor Francis Lyall, in Zeitschrift für Luft- und Weltraumrecht

"'The Geostationary Ring: Practice and Law' can be recommended to all who are interested in the legal regime of the use not only of the GSO but also other areas of outer space...The title of the book promises information about practice and law, and readers will not be dissapointed. Indeed, if you lend this volume to a colleague, you will want to have it back in your library as fast as possible!" - Mahulena Hoffman and P.J. Blount in Journal or Air & Space Law, Kluwer, (2021), The Netherlands

"Dr. Mejía Kaiser, member of the Board of Directors of the International Institute of Space Law, has extensive expertise in this matter, developed from her first undergraduate work to her master’s and doctorate studies. For this reason, the author offers us a unique opportunity with her work on practice and law in the geostationary ring, not only because it takes us into the essential content of space law, but also because it addresses complex technical issues around technology and the operation of satellites over the equatorial line." - Juan Manuel Portilla Gómez in Mexican Yearbook of International Law of the National Univ. of Mexico (AMDI)
List of Figures and Tables

1Physical Characteristics and Users of the Geostationary Orbit
 1 The Way Leading to the Geostationary Orbit
 2 Types of Orbits
 3 Two Examples of Circular and Elliptical Orbits
 4 The Geostationary Orbit
 5 Geosynchronous Orbits
 6 The Geostationary Ring as a Three-Dimensional Body
 7 Some Natural Forces Influencing Satellite Positions
 8 Users of the Geostationary Ring
 9 Conclusion

2Basic Concepts of Space Law as Relevant to the Geostationary Ring
 1 Space Law Legal and Political Multilateral Instruments
 2 Basic Concepts of Space Law
 3 State Responsibility in General
 4 State Responsibility for Space Activities
 5 Liability
 6 Conclusion

3Sovereignty Claims with Respect to the Geostationary Ring
 1 The Boundaries of Outer Space
 2 The Bogotá Declaration
 3 Position of Colombia
 4 Position of Ecuador
 5 The Unsubstantiated Position of Colombia and Ecuador
 6 Conclusion

4Slots and Electromagnetic Frequencies
 1 Beginning of Space Communications
 2 Brief Historical Background of ITU ’s Role with Regard to Geostationary Communications
 3 Stepping Stones for Geostationary Slot and Frequency Coordination
 4 Controversial and Peculiar Issues
 5 Conclusion

5Space Traffic in the Geostationary Ring
 1 Busy Segments in the Geostationary Ring
 2 Sharing Duties for Satellite Station-keeping
 3 Traffic Rules and Traffic Management
 4 Conclusion

6Pollution of the Geostationary Ring
 1 Generation of Space Debris
 2 Small Space Debris
 3 Space Surveillance
 4 Initial Efforts to Preserve the Geostationary Ring
 5 Conclusion

7Re-orbiting into Graveyard Orbits
 1 The Geostationary Ring as a Protected Region
 2 The Price of Re-orbiting Satellites into Graveyard Orbits
 3 Evolution of the IADC Recommendations on ‘Re-orbiting’ into Customary Law?
 4 Will the ‘Re-orbiting of Geostationary Satellites into Graveyard Orbits’ Crystallize into a New Norm of International Customary Law?
 5 Legal Consequences If ‘Re-orbiting of Geostationary Satellites into Graveyard Orbits’ Crystallizes as a Norm
 6 Legal Consequences Even If No Norm Exists
 7 Conclusion

8On-Orbit Servicing, Removal and Recycling of Space Debris
 1 The State with Jurisdiction and Control
 2 On-Orbit Servicing of Geostationary Satellites
 3 Salvage of Space Objects
 4 Recycling Space Objects
 5 Responsibility and Liability for On-orbit Servicing, Salvage and Recycling
 6 Active Space Debris Removal
 7 Responsibility and Liability for Removal
 8 Removal of Hazardous Space Objects
 9 Model for the Distant Future: International Market Oriented Space Removal
 10 Conclusion

9Unauthorised Cyber Activities
 1 Basic Technical Description of a Satellite System
 2 Methods to Access the Computer Systems of a Space System
 3 Unauthorised Access to Satellite Payload
 4 Unauthorised Access to Satellite Flight Systems
 5 Unauthorised Cyber Activities Under Telecommunications Law
 6 Unauthorised Cyber Activities in Space Law
 7 Phases of Unauthorised Cyber Activities
 8 Recommendations to Counteract Unauthorised Cyber Activities on Space Systems
 9 Conclusion

10Future Systems
 1 Space Solar Power Systems
 2 Space Mirrors
 3 Space Elevator
 4 Other Uses
 5 Conclusion
Concluding Remarks
 1 Matters for Further Research
 2 The Way Forward
Annex 1: IADC Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines
Annex 2: Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, United Nations
Annex 3: Table about the Practice by States and International Organisations on Satellite Re-orbiting from 1999 to 2018
Annex 4: Proposal of an International Convention on the Removal of Hazardous Space Debris
Treaties, Other Instruments and Documents
Court Cases
This study serves to students, professors and researchers of law, political sciences, space engineering and space debris. It is also valuable for researchers and managers in space agencies, international organizations and private companies, as well as diplomats engaged in fora as UN COPUOS and ITU. This work is also of particular interest to the insurance sector and policy and law makers of any country.
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