by Daniel Matchett, an international serious injury solicitor at Irwin Mitchell

I recently wrote on the emerging travel market in space tourism  and pondered on the potential legal implications as this market expands.  Already, we see a further development in this area. 

On 5 October, 2021, a Russian director and actor launched from Kazakhstan to board the International Space Station, where they will become the first to shoot a feature-length movie in space.

Leaving aside the impact this might have on the global film industry, it does raise further questions as to how the legal and insurance markets will respond to such a significant expansion of our travel horizons, particularly where that travel is undertaken for the purposes of work.  

Where work travel might incorporate a stay beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, rather than the more usual budget hotel in a regional town, can an employer insist on such trips as part of the scope of an employee’s employment? 

Will such a trip be covered under the terms of an  employers’ liability insurance policy or will EL policies be replaced with ET policies? 

Should an employee be so unfortunate as to sustain injury during a trip beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, how and where is any resultant legal claim to be assessed?

Such questions are of course largely hypothetical, and perhaps slightly tongue in cheek, for now. 

However, as we continue to see incremental steps towards the expansion of space tourism and a bold new world, they merit some consideration.  It’s a legal claim, Jim, but not as we know it. 

Find out more about my previous article on the emerging travel market in space tourism.