Space Law and Policy and Space Organizations

Space Law and Policy

Space law and policy is in its infancy and is subject to change and development. Space law involves domestic and international conventions, agreements, rules, and principles. Space law deals with topics including space exploration and diplomacy, damage liability, weapons use, rescue efforts, environmental preservation, information sharing, commerce, new technologies, and ethics. Even the definitions of airspace and guidelines the for space exploration are yet to be universally established.

Since 1919, nation states have controlled the space directly above their territories. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Space Act were enacted by Acts of the United States Congress during the Cold War in response to Russia launching the Sputnik satellite (1957) which crossed national borders.

The fundamentally authoritative textbooks are Space Law and Government (1962) by attorney Andrew G. Haley, Esquire and Law and Public Order in Space by Myers McDougal and, Harold Laswell, and Ivan Vlasic (1963).

Space law and policy are enacted thru the United Nations (UN) Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs Subcommittee (COPUOS), the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its Scientific, Technical, and Legal Subcommittees, as well as the United Nations General Assembly. A few of the major international space principles, declarations, and treaties include the following and are based on consensus:

  1. The Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Uses of Outer Space (1963). Principles include no nation may claim ownership of any celestial body. Governmental and non-governmental bodies must abide by international law and their activities become the responsibility of their nation state.

Due to gravity, objects in geostationary orbit remain at the same point over Earth to send radio frequencies to and from satellites to collect data and send signals. The United Nations Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space has approved the following nonmilitary purposes for geostationary orbit allocation which in case of dispute are often resolved by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU):

  1. Communications,

The Bogota Declaration (1976) declared nations near the Equator could assert the right to control the use of air space above their territories.

Space law and policy will have to deal in the future with ethical dilemmas. Although the “Outer Space Treaty” (1967) permits the commercial exploitation of space for construction, mining, resource processing, transportation, and even tourism, habitation, and colonization, public and private entities will still remain subject to international and national regulation. Article II of the Outer Space Treaty outlaws all nations from appropriating by any means or use any celestial body but the article does not mention private associations or corporations.

A central issue for us as we venture into the oceans of space will be how much do we value other living biological organisms, celestial bodies, and objects in space compared to ourselves as human beings. In essence, as we move in time deeper into space, we will still have to balance conservation of the nature of the Earth and Universe we need with our desire to profit from the resources we want. Ultimately, as Carl Sagan said in his stunning epic documentary Cosmos, it is up to each of us to speak for Earth.

Space Organizations:

Several organizations have made useful contributions to space colonization.

  1. The Space Studies Institute (SSI) funds space habitat studies.



Multi-media essays on arts and sciences, culture and society, law and politics, justice and spirituality, and metaphysics and converging technologies.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Reid Friedson, PhD

Multi-media essays on arts and sciences, culture and society, law and politics, justice and spirituality, and metaphysics and converging technologies.