What do I do if I get hit by a government satellite?

Hit by a government satellite

Yes, this is a serious question you may want to know the answer to in the next couple of days. Several dozen chunks of space debris is going to be ripping through earth’s atmosphere in the next couple of days, the largest of which may weigh up to 200 pounds (after entering earth’s atmosphere.)It’s estimated that up to 100 tons of debris will fall into our atmosphere this year alone.

This particular space junk is from a satellite called GOCE (Graity field and steady sate ocean circulation explorer.) You can actually track GOCE on the European Space Agency’s website, but unfortunately you can’t track down where it’s going to fall unto earth.

So this lead me to wonder…what if I get a personal injury claim from someone who has been injured as a result of a piece of space debris? Usually satellites are owned by a government agency, but there are private companies like SpaceX who have launched the Falcon 1 into space that have satellites that could potentially fall into earth injuring someone.

I took my “Little Book of Space Law” out and did some more research. Evidently lawsuits have been enforced for space debris hitting earth in the past. In 1978 a Russian satellite called Kosmos 954 hammered Canada with radioactive debris resulting in Canada sending a $6 million dollar bill to Russia.

There is actually a treaty that governs situations like this that was formed in 1972 called the Space Liability Convention which states that countries bear international responsibility for all space objects that are launched within their territory. This means that regardless of who launches the space object, if it was launched from State A’s territory, or from State A’s facility, or if State A caused the launch to happen, then State A is fully liable for damages that result from that space object.

So to break it all down if you get injured as a result of space debris first contact a good personal injury attorney because the Government is going to pony up on the bill. The actual chances of this happening is next to nothing but it’s good to be prepared and knowledgeable if this situation arises.

I’ll leave you with this… a bunch of photos of satellites that have actually hit earth: