The Future of Commercial Space Law and Regulation: Sustained Long-Term Planning and the Complementary Roles of Public & Private Sectors

June 7, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Posted in Blogcast, Space Law | Leave a comment

The final panel was moderated by James A. Vedda and included Jim Dunstan, Mobius Legal Group, LLC; Henry Herzfeld, Research Professor, Space Policy Institute, George Washington University; and James A.M. Muncy, PoliSpace Space Policy Consultancy.

Dunstan started the discussion by looking how the U.S. Space Policy looks forward to and envisions settlement of space. He stated that historically, the space program has been operated in in a top down manner, which inhibits it’s future development. He stated the need for a unified goal for the space development.

Muncy comments focused on the idea of approaching space commerce holistically as opposed to looking at particular interests. He stated theta “business in space should be about business.” Like traditional business it should be about delivering good products to a market. Therefore, he stated that space commerce should be looking at the goals of not just space commerce but also the government. He endorsed analyzing where business fits in to the government’s goals for space.

Herzfeld stated that settlement should not be the objective of space activities. He then noted that as long as there is business is in space there will be an increase in regulations as opposed to a decrease. He noted that space law grew as an outgrowth of the treaties. He drew particular attention to Article VI which makes states responsible for their space actors (including businesses). He stated that this was an exceptional clause, and one that is unlikely to be changed. This, he said, the challenge for regulation of space commerce. He stated that national laws will be the source of these new regulations. He said cooperation between industry and government was how space goals would be achieved. He noted others issues that will affect the future of commercial space such as the increase in space debris. He said that it will be important to make space business a desirable endeavor for private actors.

The discussion moved to issues of orbital debris, and how to deal with the growing problem. The panel discussed whether salvage was allowed or whether it could be allowed. Herzfeld noted that any attempt to salvage would create additional risks and a myriad of other issues. Vedda asked whether there was potential to change the Outer Space Treaty to allow for this. Herzfeld stated that it would be very difficult to change the treaty, and waiting for such a change is impractical. The panel discussed in depth possibilities for regulating space debris and its removal using a variety of methods.

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