Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe free to our newsletters via your




















SPACE TRAVEL
As the world embraces space, the 50 year old Outer Space Treaty needs adaptation
by Staff Writers
Melbourne, Australia (SPX) Jul 11, 2017


illustration only

by Duncan Blake and Steven Freeland for The Conversation AU The Outer Space Treaty (OST) is the framework multilateral treaty that establishes the principal rules regulating the exploration and use of outer space. Established in 1967, it celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

But now we need an update. While the fundamental principles set out in the treaty are vitally important to the peaceful and orderly use of outer space, the pace of development of space-related technology - which allows for activities far beyond the contemplation of those that put the treaty together - means that some activities in space may fall between the cracks.

50 years of OST
For 50 years, the OST has largely allowed for a consideration of the interests of both the space "powers" and the space "have-nots".

In 1967, the Cold War superpowers were continuing to develop inter-continental ballistic missiles capable of destroying entire cities and taking the lives of all their inhabitants. In that context, the OST set a delicate balance between the strategic interests of the US and the USSR in space. At the same time, the OST elevated the interests of humanity in outer space above the parochial interests of individual states. Appearing in person for the signing of the treaty, US President Lyndon Johnson said:

"This is an inspiring moment in the history of the human race."

Indeed, the treaty has (thus far) successfully created an environment that has prevented warfare in space. Its binding provisions are not only legally defensible, but have also historically reinforced an overwhelming political dynamic to refrain from overt military action in space.

The treaty is, however, expressed in broad statements of principle; such as, that the exploration and use of outer space "shall be the province of all mankind" - or "humanity" in more gender-enlightened times. This was necessary in the geopolitical context. Broad statements of principle were sufficient to regulate relations between space-faring states in the first several decades of space exploration and use, while allowing some flexibility to those same states.

However, as space has become more accessible and commercialised, those broad statements of principle are, in our view, still necessary but no longer sufficient. They need to be supplemented - but not replaced.

Adapting the OST
At a time of heightened global strategic tensions, relative insularity and increasingly diverse vested interests, the prospect of new, legally-binding instruments seems remote, at least in the short term. Even the common mistrust that united space powers in the negotiation of the OST in 1967, is today fractured by uncertainty about the promises, prevalence and purposes of great powers and their allies. This is particularly the case with respect to an impending sense among some observers - which we do not necessarily accept - of the "inevitability" of armed conflict in space.

So, where could we find the mandate to champion the cause of new legal instruments to supplement the broad principles of the OST? To adapt global space governance to the needs of the next 50 years?

It is future generations who have the strongest claim to preserve and even improve the benefits from the peaceful exploration and use of outer space over the coming decades. They have at least a moral - and, arguably, legal - mandate to insist that states seriously consider supplementing the OST. And the opportunity for the next generation to state their claim is right here, right now.

In late September 2017, Adelaide will host the largest space-related meeting on the annual calendar - the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC). In more recent years, there has been a companion conference just prior to the IAC - the Space Generation Congress (SGC). This was initiated on the request of states through the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space to represent the interests of the next generation in outer space.

At the SGC, a group of young Australians will lead a working group of delegates from across the globe, to develop and propose a set of supplementary protocols to the OST, in order to adapt global space governance to the needs of the next 50 years.

Existential challenges
Crafting instruments that address the current and foreseeable future challenges in global space governance will not be easy. The challenges are not just big, they're existential.

Stephen Hawking recently suggested that humanity must become an inter-planetary species to escape climate change on this planet, which threatens to make the Earth environment increasingly incompatible with human existence.

Climate change is not the only threat - an asteroid impact could wipe out our species, and one of the regular solar events in the life of our Sun could severely disrupt satellites and terrestrial networks and electronics. We can't control that, although we could do something about human-generated space debris, which may make valuable Earth orbits unusable for millennia to come.

But who should be responsible for space debris and how? What laws should apply to humans living on another planet? Who has legal authority to take timely action to divert an asteroid on behalf of the whole planet?

Furthermore, if states continue to develop means of space warfare, in addition to the many pre-existing means of warfare on Earth, we might still be the authors of our own demise. But how do you regulate "space weapons" without undermining "the great prospects opening up before mankind as a result of man's entry into outer space" (the opening words of the OST)?

Economic implications
The global space industry is already worth over US$330 billion and generates hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Even in Australia, a 2015 report commissioned by the Government estimated that the space industry here generated $3 billion to $4 billion in revenue. Possible future commercial mining of the Moon and asteroids potentially involves trillions of dollars.

Furthermore, space is becoming democratised - accessible to all - through small satellite and small launcher technology. Can we find ways to share the benefits of outer space, as well as the responsibility for preserving it?

The working group at the SGC face a difficult task in articulating new rules to supplement the broad principles set out in the OST. However, they represent important stakeholders who, more than any state, have a moral mandate to champion changes to adapt the OST to the needs of the next 50 years. We wish them great success.

Duncan Blake is a PhD candidate, law and military uses of outer space, University of Adelaide and Steven Freeland is Dean, School of Law and Professor of International Law, Western Sydney University

The Conversation

SPACE TRAVEL
India, Portugal Shake Hands on Space Cooperation
New Delhi (Sputnik) Jun 28, 2017
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Lisbon agreed with Portuguese authorities on creation of alliance to advance space research, the Indian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday. India, Portugal sing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the field of space, according to the statement. "During the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ... read more

Related Links
Outer Space Treaty
Space Tourism, Space Transport and Space Exploration News

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

SPACE TRAVEL
As the world embraces space, the 50 year old Outer Space Treaty needs adaptation

Dutch project tests floating cities to seek more space

Creating Trends in Space: An Interview with NanoRacks CEO Jeffrey Manber

Trump offers bold space goals but fills in few details

SPACE TRAVEL
Aerojet Rocketdyne tests Advanced Electric Propulsion System

After two delays, SpaceX launches broadband satellite for IntelSat

Spiky ferrofluid thrusters can move satellites

On the road to creating an electrodeless spacecraft propulsion engine

SPACE TRAVEL
Mars surface 'more uninhabitable' than thought: study

Mars Rover Opportunity continuing science campaign at Perseverance Valley

The Niagara Falls of Mars once flowed with lava

Russian Devices for ExoMars Mission to Be Ready in Fall 2017

SPACE TRAVEL
China develops sea launches to boost space commerce

Chinese satellite Zhongxing-9A enters preset orbit

Chinese Space Program: From Setback, to Manned Flights, to the Moon

Chinese Rocket Fizzles Out, Puts Other Launches on Hold

SPACE TRAVEL
Iridium Poised to Make Global Maritime Distress and Safety System History

100M Pound boost for UK space sector

HTS Capacity Lease Revenues to Reach More Than $6 Billion by 2025

SES Transfers Capacity from AMC-9 Satellite Following Significant Anomaly

SPACE TRAVEL
Spacepath Communications Announces Innovative Frequency Converter Systems

Sorting complicated knots

Engineers find way to evaluate green roofs

Nature-inspired material uses liquid reinforcement

SPACE TRAVEL
More to Life Than the Habitable Zone

Gulf of Mexico tube worm is one of the longest-living animals in the world

Odd planetary system around fast-spinning star doesn't quite fit existing models of planet formation

Evidence discovered for two distinct giant planet populations

SPACE TRAVEL
NASA spacecraft to fly over Jupiter's Great Red Spot

New Mysteries Surround New Horizons' Next Flyby Target

Mid-infrared images from the Subaru telescope extend Juno spacecraft discoveries

Earth-based Views of Jupiter to Enhance Juno Flyby




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement