Objectives. Scientific and technological progress opens the way for the use of new vehicles for transport that can reach sub–orbital heights. Aerospace engineers, chemists, astronomers and other categories of scientists, along with techni- cians and qualified workers, are involved in the design of special innovative equipment, capable of flying over 100 km in height. These are sophisticated flying machines called spaceplanes. Private companies are investigating the possibility of using sub–orbital vehicles with advanced technologies to be used for commercial purposes and, in particular, for that sector of the market, called space tourism. According to estimates by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), by 2021 approximately 16,500 people could try the suborbital flight experience. Methodology. From an analysis of the existing legislation in air transport, we will try to understand if the legislation applicable to commercial aircraft and for air travel can also be applied to this type of vehicle or whether the law of space law is more appropriate. Findings. The type of spaceplane so far designed, for most of its trip, would seem to be more similar to an aircraft, even if for a part of its flight it will fly in outer space. If it is an aircraft, international and national legislation on commercial air transport can be applied. What remains to be clarified is if it is necessary to draw up new legislation in a new branch. Research limits. The diYculty of the research derives from the lack of an advanced experimentation that makes it easy to identify all the legal implications that such a type of transport implies. Practical implications. The experimentation of these types of vehicles and their possible commer- cial use poses new interesting questions that lawyers must face. Can suborbital flight be considered space activity? Or should it be considered under aeronautical law? Is a spaceplane a space object or an aircraft? What are the protections for passengers? If, as it seems, a spaceport of departure is built in Italy, which international and national air navigation rules will apply, if any? Originality of the study. If these spaceplanes, in the future, are used and put onto the transport market, we can think of a new system of transport characterized by a significantly higher speed than that of commercial navigation.

Innovation in the system of transport. Suborbital flight

Marino Adele
2018

Abstract

Objectives. Scientific and technological progress opens the way for the use of new vehicles for transport that can reach sub–orbital heights. Aerospace engineers, chemists, astronomers and other categories of scientists, along with techni- cians and qualified workers, are involved in the design of special innovative equipment, capable of flying over 100 km in height. These are sophisticated flying machines called spaceplanes. Private companies are investigating the possibility of using sub–orbital vehicles with advanced technologies to be used for commercial purposes and, in particular, for that sector of the market, called space tourism. According to estimates by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), by 2021 approximately 16,500 people could try the suborbital flight experience. Methodology. From an analysis of the existing legislation in air transport, we will try to understand if the legislation applicable to commercial aircraft and for air travel can also be applied to this type of vehicle or whether the law of space law is more appropriate. Findings. The type of spaceplane so far designed, for most of its trip, would seem to be more similar to an aircraft, even if for a part of its flight it will fly in outer space. If it is an aircraft, international and national legislation on commercial air transport can be applied. What remains to be clarified is if it is necessary to draw up new legislation in a new branch. Research limits. The diYculty of the research derives from the lack of an advanced experimentation that makes it easy to identify all the legal implications that such a type of transport implies. Practical implications. The experimentation of these types of vehicles and their possible commer- cial use poses new interesting questions that lawyers must face. Can suborbital flight be considered space activity? Or should it be considered under aeronautical law? Is a spaceplane a space object or an aircraft? What are the protections for passengers? If, as it seems, a spaceport of departure is built in Italy, which international and national air navigation rules will apply, if any? Originality of the study. If these spaceplanes, in the future, are used and put onto the transport market, we can think of a new system of transport characterized by a significantly higher speed than that of commercial navigation.
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