The Effect of Space Tourism on the Concept of "Astronaut" Under International Law

Melissa de Zwart, Joel Lisk

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter will consider the impact of the increasing potential for commercial space tourism on the long-standing concept of the “astronaut”. It will consider whether the term astronaut continues to exemplify unique attributes meriting special treatment under international and domestic space law. Further, it will address the question of whether there is some intrinsic value in preserving the concept of astronaut in the era of increased commercial space activity, particularly space tourism. It concludes that the notion of “astronaut” carries inherent qualities of skill, bravery and training. As humans look to return to the Moon and beyond, a vast range of professions will be required to undertake such missions and it is likely that many of those undertaking these missions will not be astronauts in the traditional sense nor will they have the skills or training to pilot a spacecraft. Whether these people should continue to be classified as astronauts because such activities take place in space requires attention due to the potential application of international law, which provides astronauts with enhanced levels of protection. The activities of space tourists provide a unique opportunity to consider whether new terminology may be needed for expanded commercial uses of outer space.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSpace Tourism
Subtitle of host publicationLegal and Policy Aspects
EditorsSandeepa Bhat B.
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor & Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-032-61796-1
ISBN (Print)978-1-032-48862-2, 978-1-032-61795-4
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • International law
  • Space activities
  • Astronauts
  • Space tourism
  • Space law
  • Commercial uses of outer space.


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