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63 Am. J. Int'l L. 197 (1969)
Issue 2

handle is hein.journals/ajil63 and id is 207 raw text is: RESCUE AND RETURN OF ASTRONAUTS ON EARTH AND IN
By R. Cargill Hall**
The requirement for international standards for rescue and return of
distressed astronauts rapidly assumed importance in the first years of the
space age, paralleling development of the technology necessary to sustain
man in outer space and to permit re-entry of spacecraft through the earth's
atmosphere. The need increased in the early 1960's when both the United
States and the Soviet Union announced inauguration of space flight pro-
grams to send men to the moon and return them to earth. It was recog-
nized that, in the continued absence of any firm international consensus
on this subject, international friction could be caused by disagreement over
procedure to be followed, the nature and extent of states' obligations, or
by differences in interpreting or applying legal principles in the event
earth or space rescue and return operations became necessary. These con-
ditions (possible unintentional misunderstanding during manned flight
emergencies, swift developments in astronautical science and technology
that made manned space flight a reality, and the importance of astronauts
in terms of national prestige and subsequent status as envoys of man-
kind) combined to encourage international agreement upon standards for
rescue and return by way of direct discussion among states, informal
agreement, and, ultimately, conclusion of formal conventions governing
this activity; and they discouraged reliance by nations upon principles or
practices derived from custom and precedent.
In the conduct of national manned space flight programs, however, there
are two primary situations for which recognized standards for rescue and
return of astronauts are necessary: (1) crash-landing of space vehicles
and their crews on land or sea after re-entry from outer space; and (2)
astronauts in distress in orbit, on celestial bodies, or traversing space be-
tween celestial bodies. Because technical developments permitting space
vehicle re-entry through the atmosphere from near-earth orbits necessarily
preceded attempts at manned flight to neighboring celestial bodies, inter-
national interest first centered upon securing agreement on provisions for
recovery and return of astronauts and spacecraft which had crash-landed
on earth. This particular emphasis continued to be reflected in the inter-
national deliberations on rescue and return throughout the 1960's, and
* Presented orally at the 11th Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space, International
Institute of Space Law, New York City, Oct. 17, 1968.
•* Historian, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. Any
views expressed in this paper are those of the author. They should not be interpreted
as reflecting the views of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory or the official opinion or
policy of any of its governmental or private sponsors.

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