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PhD defence

Regulating a Revolution: Small Satellites and the Law of Outer Space

Tuesday 18 June 2019
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden

Small satellites and especially nano-satellites and standardized CubeSats are believed to be the future of space exploration. The standardized CubeSats triggered a revolution in the perception of space activities. Today, they mark a new age of affordable small scaled private space missions or simply “NewSpace” activities. They are easy and fast to build, use “off the shelf” standardized components; enjoy a great number of launching opportunities at a fraction of the cost of launching a “normal” size satellite; their operations are simple due to the fact that most of these satellites cannot be manoeuvred; and their operational life in orbit is usually short. These characteristics distinguish small satellites missions from “traditional” satellite missions.
The above means that more actors, and especially private entities and developing countries can afford launching small satellites, as opposed to traditional satellites; and the process of building and launching a small satellite is significantly shorter in time compared to executing a traditional satellite mission.
How should these new space activities be defined and regulated within the framework of the international space law treaty regime, originating in the 1960’s? Considering that some practices relating to small satellites missions challenge the traditional legal framework by juxtaposing it with new legal needs.
Is there justification for special treatment for small satellites missions under international space law? The study offers an answer to this question, as well as a concrete solution to deal with the legal challenges identified in the study’s chapters.


  • Prof. P.M.J. Mendes de Leon
  • Prof. G. Molier


PhD defences are free; you do not have to register.

PhD dissertations

PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally after the defence through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

Press contact

Maarten Muns, Scientific Communications Adviser, Leiden University
+31 71 527 3282

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