Elevators Stuck in Space Law

As interest in space elevators continues to rise, leave it to Professor Glenn Reynolds (-- the esteemed space law book author who, as we know, roams blogspace disguised as the mild-mannered Instapundit --) to hit the legal issues associated with the new elevator technology right on the button.

That's right, in his Tech Central Station column this week,
Space Elevator: Stuck Between Floors, the professor raises questions that illustrate the legal ups and downs of space elevators.

The old debate, "where does space begin?" will be revitalized by the idea of using things like carbon nanotubes to lift payloads and people off the earth's equator into GEO. What rights will equatorial nations claim? What exactly is the legal status of a space elevator? Does it launch objects? And if it does not, do objects delivered into orbit via this new-fangled technology constitute space objects under the treaties?

As the professor writes, "Basically, it's just a really tall tower. The Outer Space Treaty didn't envision anything like that."

As a few initial responses to some of these legal puzzles suggest, the debate will be interesting.

(And see last week's Space Law Probe post on Elevator Space, referencing Prof. Reynolds' previous column on this uplifting topic.)

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