[ELI5] Are the original owners legally responsible for space garbage? Or are they allowed to just abandon it up there?

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[ELI5] Are the original owners legally responsible for space garbage? Or are they allowed to just abandon it up there?

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there is noone to make laws in space, as space is outside any countries jurisdiction. That means that countries can’t force people to take responsibility for their space garbage. This of course leads to more and more space garbage, which makes space travel more difficult and dangerous.

In the USA, the FCC mandates that satellites must deorbit within 5 years (I’m pretty sure this is limited to LEO satellites).

https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-adopts-new-5-year-rule-deorbiting-satellites

This replaces the previous 25 year rule.

There’s also a “Graveyard orbit” near geosynchronous orbit where satellites are normally placed.

Different countries have different regulations on their launch services.

Owners of satellites are often quite concerned about space junk, though, since they are usually the ones who could potentially lose millions of dollars if another of their satellites is hit by debris. You still get bad actors sometimes, but it’s fairly common for space companies to go beyond the legal requirements to reduce space junk, just out of pure self interest.