Abstract

All spacefaring nations, as well as many other nations, have ratified the Outer Space Treaty, a document that outlines a number of principles for human activity in space. These principles include the use of space for peaceful purposes, the freedom for all nations to access space, the goal of using space for the benefit of all peoples, and no nation may declare sovereignty in space. Associated with these principles are concepts that have popularized the idea that space is a global commons. Examples in history of terrestrial commons do not provide an adequate framework for the future handling of space resources, space exploration, nor for resolving the competing public and private interests of using outer space. There are many voids in space law, and methods to effectively govern different aspects of space activities are not directly addressed in most national and international regulations. Nations, such as the United States, which have very advanced technological capabilities are expanding efforts to encourage private enterprise in outer space through new legislative incentives. These incentives have created both support and controversy in many forums as they expand and stretch some traditional interpretations of the space treaties. This paper will explore pragmatic ways the outer space environment can be effectively managed to avoid misuse, overuse, or abuse, while recognizing the future economic inevitability of nongovernmental space activities.

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