The term astronaut has a semiotic effect in ISL that constantly evokes proud memories of human conquest of outer spaces.
S.G. Sreejith, Professor at Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India
This article revisits the legal status of astronauts by recounting the tale of their rise and fall in the International Space Law (ISL). ISL in its early years declared astronauts as envoys of mankind, although it later on entered into a state of forgetfulness of the term, replacing it with the more contemporaneous term “personnel.” Personnel brought a sense of everydayness and pragmatism to ISL as against the idealism attached to astronauts and to their status as the envoys of mankind’s romantic collective.
Spotlighting on this shift, this article argues that the term astronaut has, in fact, a semiotic effect in ISL that constantly evokes proud memories of human conquest of outer spaces. That is to say, in bestowing astronauts with the status of envoys of mankind, ISL mainly meant to record the remarkable feat of that day rather than actualizing astronauts in the deontological landscape of law.
Later on, mindful of the burgeoning space activities and the need to regulate them, ISL espoused the term personnel to refer to space travelers. Today ISL governs the activities of personnel, whereas astronaut has a logocentric presence therein. Drawing on a relevant understanding of contemporary society and culture, the article concludes that astronauts have a legacy in law and society—they continue to exist as a cultural symbol in society and as a symbol of a culture in ISL.
Published in: Space Policy
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