Top question: Who’s liable for space junk falling on Saskatchewan farmland?

Space junk falling on Saskatchewan farmland prompts question: who’s liable?

“Space debris falling to Earth is becoming an unsettling trend, with recent incidents including a piece crashing through a Florida home and another landing in a Saskatchewan farmer’s field. The farmer, Barry Sawchuk, found the debris while checking his fields and remained surprisingly nonchalant about the situation.

Discovery of the Debris

Sawchuk described the debris as a burned-up piece of carbon fiber with aluminum honeycombed in between and a hydraulic cylinder attached. After reaching out to an astronomy professor, it was determined that the debris likely came from a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft that had returned to Earth in February. The risk of falling space junk creating hazards for people on the ground is a growing concern, especially as the private sector becomes more involved in space exploration.

Responsibility for Space Debris

The question of liability for space debris falling to Earth remains a complex issue. According to space law expert Thomas Cheney, any damage caused by a space object is the responsibility of the country that launched it. In the case of the debris in Sawchuk’s field, negotiations for compensation are underway between the farmer and the company responsible. However, the specifics of these negotiations are often kept confidential to avoid setting precedents for future cases.

Future Regulations and Safety Measures

As the number of objects launched into space continues to rise, there is a need for updates to regulations surrounding outer space activities. Both experts agree that international bodies should work towards enhancing safety measures to protect people on the ground from potential hazards. Pressure must be applied to ensure that regulations keep pace with the evolving space industry to prevent more serious incidents from occurring.


The recent incidents of space debris falling to Earth highlight the need for increased awareness and regulations to mitigate potential risks. While Sawchuk’s experience may have been relatively minor, the consequences could have been catastrophic if the debris had landed in a populated area. As the space industry continues to expand, it is crucial to prioritize safety and accountability to safeguard both space exploration and the well-being of those on Earth.”



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