The future of space law
As an old Danish proverb apparently had it: ‘It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future’.484 That obviously applies also to space law, given the rapidity of developments in the space arena. It is barely 60 years ago that the Soviet Union sent a tiny metal sphere into outer space being able to do little more than go ‘beep-beep-beep’ – and today we are already completely used to sending Internet messages across the globe, forecasting the weather and navigating anything from bombs to aircraft to hikers, usually not even realizing anymore that it is space technology that helps us to do that. And if certain visionaries are to be believed, within the next few decades we will see space tourism take off, be able to de-orbit space debris actively, and mine the Moon or other celestial bodies – or even start settling on them.
What the specific needs for those future developments are in terms of law and regulation, to create both some sense of justice and some sense of predictability and foreseeability of human activity in or using outer space, is therefore very difficult to determine in any reasonable detail. Space lawyers, at the very least, should (continue to) follow developments in the technical, operational, political and commercial realms closely and make sure they understand their major aspects and elements, in order to ensure that understanding the legal requirements or consequences they would give rise to does not lag behind too far.
At a high...
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