Saturday, September 24, 2011

If A Satellite Hits Your House, Who Pays?

Apparently NASA's obsolete UARS satellite has now fallen to Earth over the Pacific Ocean.  But the headline of this related article caught my eye anyway. "If A Satellite Falls On Your Home, Who Pays?"

It turns out, to my astonishment, that there is an unambiguous answer to this question, and that it is a well-settled question of international law. NASA would have to pay if the falling UARS had hit your home.

"Liability for damage caused by objects falling from space is regulated by the 1972 Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects, according to NASA public affairs officer Beth Dickey. When the U.S. signed the pact, it agreed to be 'absolutely liable to pay compensation for damage caused by its space object on the surface of the Earth or to aircraft in flight.'"

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