Frans von der Dunk

Frans von der Dunk Harvey & Susan Perlman Alumni and Othmer Professor of Space Law

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Prof. Von der Dunk was awarded the Distinguished Service Award of the International Institute of Space Law (IISL) of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) in Vancouver, in October 2004, the Social Science Award of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) in Valencia, in October 2006, and the 2015 Social Science Book Award, International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), for the Handbook of Space Law, Jerusalem, October 2015. In the summer of 2008, he was nominated, as the first lawyer ever, Member of the European Space Sciences Committee (ESSC) of the European Space Foundation (ESF). Also, he was the sole lawyer on the Panel on Asteroid Threat Mitigation established by the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) in 2007.

He defended his dissertation on "Private Enterprise and Public Interest in the European 'Spacescape'" in 1998. He has written more than 180 articles and published papers, many of which can be accessed at, giving rise to hundreds of full-text downloads monthly. He has given more than 210 presentations at international meetings and was visiting professor at some 50 universities and academic institutions across the world on subjects of international and national space law and policy, international air law and public international law. He has (co)organised some 50 international symposia, workshops and other events, and has been (co)editor of a number of publications and proceedings. As of 2006, he is the Series Editor of 'Studies in Space Law', published by Brill. In addition, he has given a range of interviews to the international media on issues of space law and policy. In 2015 he published the first comprehensive Handbook of Space Law with Edward Elgar Publishing, and in 2018 a major research collection under the titel ‘International Space Law’ with the same publisher.

Prof. Von der Dunk has served as adviser to the Dutch Government, several foreign Governments, the European Commission, the European Space Agency (ESA), the United Nations (UN), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Dutch National Aerospace Agency (NIVR), the Japanese Space Exploration Agency (JAXA), the German Space Agency (DLR), the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB), the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC), the United Arab Emirates Space Agency (UAESA), the Saudi Space Agency (SSA) and the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), as well as a number of companies, and was member of the Advisory Group to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on the drafting of Optional Rules for Arbitration of Disputes relating to Outer Space. Such advisory work dealt with a broad area of issues related to space activities, such as space policy, international cooperation in space, national space law, privatisation of space activities, Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) (in particular Galileo), satellite communications, radio astronomy, and earth observation. Also, he has acted as the Legal Task Manager in a number of studies undertaken in particular within the context of leading European Commission projects, such as on European space policy, Galileo and GNSS, satellite communications, the Copernicus project and earth observation. Much of his recent work furthermore focused on such topical issues as space tourism, the legal status of the Moon and other celestial bodies and the 'sale-of- lunar-estate hoax', and planetary protection.

He is Director Public Relations of the International Institute of Space Law (IISL), and Member for the Netherlands in the International Law Association's (ILA) Committee on Space Law. He is also Member of the International Editorial Board of 'Space Policy'. Further memberships include: International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA), International Bar Association's (IBA) Section on Business Law (SBL), Committee Z on Outer Space Law, International Policy Advisory Committee (IPAC) of the International Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS), American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA; Senior Member), and Centro de Investigacion y Difusion Aeronautico-Espacial (CIDA-E; Corresponding Member). He is also the owner of Black Holes B.V., a consultancy company for space law and policy.


Space Law Law 748/G (3 cr hr)
Provides a basic overview of international space law with primary emphasis on the civilian and commercial dimensions of space law and policy, including civilian government space, satellite launch, satellite communications, satellite navigation, and satellite remote sensing. Topics will include the five major international treaties dealing directly with space and the application of these Cold-War era treaties to modern space activities, as well as the consequences for national legal systems. Also the military aspects will be dealt with summarily.

Aviation Law LAW 661/G (1 cr hr)

This course focuses on public international air law, with emphasis on the Chicago Convention of 1944 and the International Civil Aviation Organization, the Annexes thereto and the exchange of air traffic rights by way of bilateral air service agreements. This course will also cover drones and the most important criminal air law treaties. This course will furthermore cover selected areas of private international air law including air carrier liability under the Warsaw and Montreal Conventions, respectively the Rome Convention alternatively tort law. It will also include the role of the GATS and the EU in aviation law. Finally, attention will be paid to how US aviation law operates within this international regime. Grade will be based on a final exam. This course is available to online LL.M. students.


The European Union and Space – Space for Competition?  in Proceedings of the International Institute of Space Law 2018 (IISL)(2019), 285-300.

The regulation of space tourism  in Space Tourism – The Elusive Dream (Eds. E. Cohen & S. Spector)(2019), 177-99.

Legal challenges in the context of the European space policy  in A European Space Policy (Eds. T. Hoerber & S. Lieberman)(2019), 75-95.

International Satellite Law  in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Planetary Sciences (Ed. S. Freeland)(2019), DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190647926.013.39, 27 pp.

The regulation of space tourism, in Space Tourism – The Elusive Dream  Eds. E. Cohen & S. Spector)(2019), 177-99.

Citius, Altius, Fortius – Regulating commercial spaceflight under air law or space law?,  in Harmonising Regulatory and Antitrust Regimes for International Air Transport (Ed. J. Walulik)(2019), 107-24.

Kiwi’s in Space – New Zealand’s ‘Outer Space and High-Altitude Activities Act’,  in Proceedings of the International Institute of Space Law 2017 (IISL)(2018), 453-67.

Introduction,  in International Space Law (Ed. F.G. von der Dunk)(2018), xiii-xxi.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Their Use of Satellite Services and (Space) Law,   in Innovation in Outer Space: International and African Legal Perspectives (Eds. M. Hofmann & P.J. Blount)(2018), 155-70.

Billion-dollar questions? Legal aspects of commercial space activities,  Uniform Law Review (2018), 1-29.

Private Property Rights and the Public Interest in Exploration of Outer Space,  13(2) Biological Theory – Integrating Development, Evolution and Cognition (2018), 142-151.

Asteroid Mining: International and National Legal Aspects,  26 Michigan State International Law Review (2018), 83-101.

The Second African National Space Law – The Nigerian NASRDA Act and the Draft Regulations on Licensing and Supervision,  in Proceedings of the International Institute of Space Law 2016 (IISL)(2017), 547-59.

Customary International Law and Outer Space,   in Reexamining Customary International Law (Ed. B.D. Lepard)(2017), 346-73.

The true meaning of the Treaty of Lisbon in the Context of European Regional Cooperation in Outer Space, Chapter 3,  in Global Perspectives on Regional Cooperation in Space: Policies, Governance & Legal Tools (IAA)(2017), 107-19.

Space Law and GNSS – A look at the legal frameworks for “outer space”,  12-3 Inside GNSS (May/June 2017), 36-41.

Transfer of Ownership in Orbit: from Fiction to Problem,  in Ownership of Satellites (Eds. M. Hofmann & A. Loukakis)(2017), 27-43.

The European Union and the Outer Space Treaty: Will the Twain Ever Meet?,  in 50 Years of the Outer Space Treaty – Tracing the Journey (Ed. A. Lele)(2017), 75-90.

Effective Exercise of ‘In-Space Jurisdiction’: The US Approach and the Problems it is Facing,  40 Journal of Space Law (2015-2016), 147-85.

Space Traffic Management: A Challenge of Cosmic Proportions,  in Proceedings of the International Institute of Space Law 2015 (IISL)(2016), 385-96.

Shaking the Foundations of the Law: Some Legal Issues Posed by a Detection of Extra-Terrestrial Life,  in The Ethics of Space Exploration (Eds. J.S.J. Schwartz & ‎T. Milligan)(2016), 251-63.

Liability for Damage Caused by Small Satellites - a non-issue?,  Small Satellites - Regulatory Challenges and Changes (2016)

Legal Aspects of Satellite Communications - A Mini Handbook,  4 Journal of Telecommunication and Broadcasting Law (2015)

The US Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015,  JURIST, 30 November 2015

Legal aspects of navigation - The cases for privacy and liability: An introduction for non-lawyers,  11-5 Coordinates (May 2015)

The 'Space Side' to 'Harmful Interference' - Evaluating Regulatory Instruments in Addressing Interference Issues in the Context of Satellite Communications,  Harmful Interference in Regulatory Perspective (2015)

About the New PCA Rules and their Application to Satellite Communication Disputes,  Dispute Settlement in the Area of Space Communication (2015)

International space law  Handbook of Space Law, (2015)

European space law  Handbook of Space Law, (2015)

International organizations in space law  Handbook of Space Law, (2015)

Legal aspects of satellite communications  Handbook of Space Law, (2015)

Legal aspects of private manned spaceflight  Handbook of Space Law, (2015)

International trade aspects of space services  Handbook of Space Law, (2015)

About the New PCA Rules and their Application to Satellite Communications Disputes  Dispute Settlement in the Area of Space Communication, (2015)

Law in Space  Elgar Publishing (2015)

Federal versus State: Private Commercial Spaceflight Operator Immunity Regulation in the United States  Proceedings of the International Institute of Space Law 2013 (2014)

Legal aspects of using space-derived geospatial information for emergency response, with particular reference to the Charter on Space and Major Disasters.  Geoinformation. Law and Practice (2014)


Advanced Introduction to Space LawEdward Elgar Publishing (2020)

International Space Law, Edward Elgar Publishing (2018)

Handbook of Space LawEdward Elgar Publishing (2015)

The International Space Station - Commercial Utilisation From A European Legal Perspective(2006), Ed. with M.M.T.A. Brus.

Private Enterprise and Public Interest in the European 'Spacescape' - Towards Harmonized National Space Legislation for Private Space Activities in Europe(1998)


Intro to Space Law (With a Few Consultant’s War Stories) Harvard Observatory & Harvard SEDS & Astrosociety, Cambridge, October 2019

Space Law from Theory to Practice: War Stories from a Consultant , Harvard Law School Space Law Society, Cambridge, October 2019

Structuring the Governance of Space Activities Worldwide The Future of Space Governance, University of Georgia, Athens, October 2019

Governance of Space Activities – Comparative Studies of National Space Policy and Law Global Networking Forum, Washington, October 2019

Scoping National Space Law: The true meaning of ‘national activities in outer space’ of Article VI of the Outer Space Treaty 62nd IISL Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space, Washington, October 2019

At a Crossroads: Can Customary International Law Provide a Stabilizing Influence in a Fractious World? ABILA International Law Weekend, New York, October 2019

Private Property Rights and the Public Interest in Exploration of Outer Space SCON Astro Physics-2019, Amsterdam, May 2019

One Billion Dollar Questions? The Lawfulness of ‘Space Mining’ Operations, University of Luxembourg, March 2019

European Space Law, University of Luxembourg, March 2019

Space law and the commercialization of outer space, Space Law Day, University of Arizona, Tucson, February 2019

Space mining and the law, Radcliffe Institute Seminar on Space Resources: Promising and Problematic?, Harvard University, October 2018

The European Union and Space - Space for Competition?, 61st IISL Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space, Bremen, October 2018

National space legislation, ECSL Summer Course on Space Law and Policy, Helsinki, August 2018

Law as a driver for a space economy: The US perspective, ECSL Summer Course on Space Law and Policy, Helsinki, August 2018

The Woomera Manual Initiative, EU Space Summer Course, Genova, July 2018

Cyber Issues in Space Law: Legal Tools - Some introductory remarks, ECSL Practitioners’ Forum, Paris, March 2018

One Billion Dollar Questions? Legal Aspects of Commercial Space Activities, Conference on Transnational Commercial Law and Natural Resources, Nijmegen (on-line), November 2017

Citius, Altius, Fortius - Regulating commercial spaceflight under air law or space law?, Airline Regulatory and Antitrust Conference, Warsaw, October 2017

Kiwis in Space - New Zealand’s ‘Outer Space and High-Altitude Activities Act’, 60th IISL Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space. Adelaide, September 2017

The international landscape in commercial & civil space law matters, UNL DC Conference, Washington, September 2017

The unique SCTL program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, United Nations/Austria Symposium, Graz (on-line), September 2017

Private Commercial Spaceflight University of Genova, July 2017

Space Law: Issues for US National and International Policy, US STRATCOM Leadership Fellow Training Session, Lincoln, April 2017

Legal aspects of private commercial spaceflight, International Conference on Contemporary Issues in Air and Space Law, University of Sharjah, UAE, February 2017

Asteroid Mining: International and National legal Aspects, Michigan State University Space Law Symposium, Lansing, MI, February 2017

Avoiding the fate of the dinosaurs with the help of lawyers? Legal aspects of planetary defence, NPOC Austria Plenary Event, Vienna, February 2017

Why Space Law is Important PINC.Sarasota, (2015)

A Tale of Two Oceans - Governance of Terrestrial and Outer Space Commons University of Rome Doctorate Program, May 2015

The Sky is the Limit - Commercial Spaceflight and the Law International Client Consultation Competition Master Class, April 2015

Space Law and Commercial Space Law - Also for Government Needs US STRATCOM Space & Cyber Law Workshop, April 2015

Legal Aspects of Navigation - The cases for privacy and liability International Navigation Conference, February 2015

From the space treaties to national space law University of Houston Law Center, November 2014

The Three Witches of US Private Commercial Spaceflight FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference, February 2014

Transmissions to Extraterrestrials and the Law: Where Do We Stand, Where Should We Stand? Active Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Workshop, February 2015

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

To China With Love  POLITICO Space (2018)

The Race to Space  VPRO Backlight (2015)

Is Space Mining Legal?  Popular Science (2015)

Black Holes BV  Professor von der Dunk's website

When Gravity is No Obstacle  Financial Times (2013)

Will Space Rules Take Off?  Global Arbitration Review (2013)

UNL Hosting Annual Space Law Conference  AIAA Daily Newsletter (2013)

Space law is taking off  American Bar Association Journal (2013)

Give Peace a Chance—in Space  The Atlantic (2013)

Space: The Mining Frontier  Mother Jones (2012)

Hangout with NASA and SpaceX on Google+  The Preternatural Post (2012)


MA, Modern History, 1986, University of Leiden, The Netherlands
Doctorate, International Space Law, 1998, University of Leiden, The Netherlands

Areas of Expertise


Professor of Law, 2008
Director, Black Holes B.V., Consultancy in Space Law and Policy, Leiden, 2007
Associate Professor, Department of Public Law, University of Leiden, 2007
Director, Space Law Research, International Institute of Air and Space Law, Leiden University, 2002
Academic Coordinator, LLM Programme in International Air and Space Law, Leiden University, 2000
Co-Director, International Institute of Air and Space Law, University of Leiden, 1990
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Public Law, University of Leiden, 1989

Media Appearances