(5) SPACE COOPERATION : SHUTTLE CONTINGENCY LANDING SITES (Entered into force January 28, 1980)|
The American Embassy to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Embassy of the United States of America presents its compliments to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and has the honor to refer to the treaty on principles governing the activities of States in the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies (Outer Space Treaty) ratified by the Governments of the United States and Japan on October 10, 1967. The Government of the United States wishes to inform the Government of Japan that in furtherance of its goals of exploring outer space for peaceful purposes the United States is planning to launch its space shuttle in the 1980's to provide a low-cost reusable space transportation system to replace expendable launch vehicles for the Government of the United States, commercial and foreign users and to provide routine, reliable and simplified operations in space. The space shuttle will make four to six orbital test flights. As these flights are experimental in purpose, the possibility exists that an emergency landing of the space shuttle may be required to ensure the safety of the astronauts. Because of trajectory constraints, it will not be possible to land the space shuttle on United States territory in all emergency situations. The Government of the United States therefore seeks to make such arrangements as may be necessary outside the United States. If such a landing should be necessary, United States personnel (both the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and contractor) would be dispatched to the landing site to prepare the orbiter for return flight to the United States.
The Government of the United States requests that, pursuant to Article V of the Outer Space Treaty, the Government of Japan render all possible assistance in the event of an emergency landing of the space shuttle on an airfield in Japanese territory to safeguard the lives of the astronauts.
To deal with such a contingency, the Government of the United States will provide planning information and consult with the Government of Japan to ensure the safest possible landing of the space shuttle. The Government of the United States is prepared to assume liability for damage caused by the space shuttle on Japanese territory under Article VII of the Outer Space Treaty and in accordance with the provisions of the Convention on International Liability for damage caused by space objects.
The Embassy of the United States of America avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the assurances of its highest consideration.
Embassy of the United States of America
Tokyo, January 28, 1980
1 TIAS 6347; 18 UST 2410.