Exploring and using outer space under law


James W. Pfister

Just as nation-states and private entities are beginning to explore and mine the mysteries of the deep seabed under the oceans, humankind (no longer referred to as mankind) is on the cusp of exploring and using space, satellites, the Moon, Mars, comets and asteroids. This will surely be a century of discovery.

Law has been part of space exploration from the beginning. Just prior to the Apollo 11 moon landing of July 24, 1969, states executed the Treaty on the Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (herein Outer Space Treaty) of Jan . 27, 1967, entering into force Oct. 10, 1967 (ratified by the United States on May 24, 1967).

Recently, the United States took the lead through the State Department and NASA in drafting the Artemis Accords on Oct. 13, 2020, grounded in the said Outer Space Treaty. Several states have recently joined. In December 2021, the White House released a United States Space Priorities Framework (herein US Framework).

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