Chaire de recherche du Canada en ÉPI

Université Laval


Upasana Dasgupta holds a PhD in Space Law from the Institute of Air and Space Law (IASL), McGill University. She has more than a decade of experience as a space law academic. Currently, she is serving as a postdoctoral researcher at Canada Research Chair in International Political Economy, ESEI, Université Laval, focusing on divergent State practices and views with regards to space treaty provisions regarding the common benefit principle. She has also taught courses such as space law and international law at O.P. Jindal Global University, India. Further,as Board member of non-profit ACES Worldwide, she is heading the Space and Sustainability Compact Agreement Initiative at South Asia.

She also holds an LLM from the McGill University Institute of Air and Space Law (IASL) as well as a B.A.,LLB (Hons) from Dr Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University (RMLNLU) in India. In her studies there she won the Gold Medal for the highest cumulative grade index among a class of 155 students. She is a member of the Bar Council of West Bengal. She served as an arbitrator for the Bucharest Ilfov Arbitration Court for a three-year term. She is a member of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) Technical Committee on Space Traffic Management, a member of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) committee on Space Debris and a member of the International Institute of Space Law (IISL).

While at McGill University she contributed as a researcher and editor to many published text and articles. These publications included: Global Space Governance: An International Space Study, The Space Security Index, the Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space, and many other publications. She also played a key role in the development of Air Line Emergency Restrictions Tracker (ALERT). This was an Internet web portal that tracked the multiple government responses to international air travel and airline travel restrictions in wake of COVID19 pandemic. This ALERT database provided an unique global map that allowed users to access the most recently-available information on policies in around 150 countries and also includes links to key local regulations wherever feasible. She has served as an advisor and carried out research for the Indian Delegation to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

As an Associate for the law firm, Argus Partners, she undertook a legal compliance audit on a leading pharmaceutical company in India and prepared report on the same. She also worked as an Associate for the law firm, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, in the capital markets team where she prepared the offer documents for many Initial Public Offerings (IPO). Her doctoral thesis is titled “Preventing Collisions in Outer Space – Clarifying the law of state responsibility for better enforcement.” She has coauthored “Outer Space for the Benefit and in the Interests of all Countries” working together with Professor Ram Jakhu and Ujwala Iyengar. Her publications also include “Back to the Future: Space Law in a Networked World” which she co-authored with Professor Ram Jakhu and Professor Steven Freeland.

Contact Details:


Phone no: +1 4389211098

Research interest

Public International Law, Space Law, Aviation Law, Space Governance; Global Governance


Legal Research Methodology; International Law of Outer Space; International Law and Relations - Basics; Interpretation of Statutes and Judicial Process

Current research project

1. Part of "THE POLYCENTRIC GOVERNANCE OF THE EARTH'S ORBITAL SPACE" project - My research interrogates the reason behind the divergent practices and views of States on space treaty provisions and answers it by analyzing bilateral instruments and through interviewing key space personnel from different countries.

2. Space and Sustainability Compact Agreements : Solving issues of food security, education for all and better healthcare through space applications

Peer-reviewed presentations

  • 61 Proc. Int'l Inst. Space L. 157 (2018)61st IISL Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space Bremen, Germany: Session 1: 10th Nandasiri Jasentuliyana Keynote Lecture on Space Law and Young Scholars Session

    This paper seeks to critically analyze and review the draft Space Activities Bill, 2017 (“Space Activities Bill”) that was issued by the Government of India on 21 November 2017 for comments. The critique provided in this paper is especially from international law perspective. As the Space Activities Bill provides, its aim is to encourage enhanced participation of non-governmental/ private sector agencies in space activities in India, in compliance with international treaty obligations. Yet a closer look at the said Bill reveals that it essentially only provides for the following: (a) authorisation and license for commercial space activities and prohibition of unauthorised space activity; (b) liability and indemnification to Central Government for damage arising out of commercial space activities; and (c) registration of space objects. Thus, the Space Activities Bill is immoderately focused on liability for damage due to private space activities.While focusing on authorization and liability, other important aspects that may incur international responsibility have been ignored; for example, the definitions under the Space Activities often do not clarify the legal position well. India being a space player for decades and party to most space treaties, the Space Activities Bill should provide a mechanism and procedure for implementing the international obligations undertaken by India under these treaties, such as, carrying out space activities out for the benefit of all; non-appropriation of outer space; and space-sustainability. However, the said Bill, which aims to act as an umbrella space legislation, does not include several such international obligations. Thus the paper argues that while liability and registration are important aspects of space law, there are other important aspects, which should not be ignored while enacting a national space legislation.


  • Preventing collisions between space objects in outer space: Clarifying the law of state responsibility for better enforcement (Doctoral thesis in Air and Space Law pursued at McGill University under the supervision of Prof (Dr) Ram S Jakhu

    This thesis deals with the issue of collisions between space objects in outer space and argues that proper enforcement of State responsibility is a tool to address the issue. The already crowded Earth’s orbit is threatened by rapidly increasing space debris, testing of anti-satellite weapons, the launch of thousands of satellites in various mega-constellations, CubeSats which are cheap to manufacture, and the renewed space race between the States. However, a single collision between space objects in outer space has the probability of triggering a string of collisions, leading to a Gravity-like situation. At the moment, States are often reluctant to assume responsibility for threats to sustainable use of outer space. The current international space law does not assign the responsibility of States adequately and appropriately, in addition to being indeterminate. This thesis uses the theoretical framework of justice as the basis of international space law to solve the inappropriate assignment of State responsibility by balancing the competing interests of States, including the special interests of the developing countries, and by reducing indeterminacy of international space law. The solution includes arguing that knowledge of an impending collision makes a State responsible to share the data and that State responsibility for better oversight of national space activities can be ensured through a combination of State control, governance by insurance and governance by bilateral space treaties clarifying the ‘appropriate’ responsible State.