While organized life in space always seemed like a plot of science fiction, because of private companies like Blue Origin and SpaceX, it is becoming closer to reality. However, while many are centered on the “settling in space” aspect, one major component that is often overlooked is the aspect of governance.
What separates space governance from other related topics is the unique goal of preventing modern conflicts from spreading to extraterrestrial operations. On Jan. 12 at ASU, a coalition of experts, including Laura Delgado López, Lindsey Wiser and Gershon Hasin, met to discuss the topic with moderator Timiebi Aganaba.
Delgado López is an international affairs fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. She discussed how one of the main hindrances in the way of space governance is the lack of regulation surrounding the topic.
“Law and regulation isn’t necessarily catching up,” Lopez said in an email. “I particularly look at emerging space countries in Latin America. They’re only working on one area and not necessarily focusing on the other pieces … Sometimes you see people having debates where some say, ‘All we need is a policy.’ But the policy is not necessarily gonna give you teeth.”
Another issue space governance is concerned with is the ethics of resource gathering and whether or not humans should be allowed to extract elements from other celestial bodies.
Wiser is a current Ph.D. candidate at ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration. According to her, the debate is still active, but there are special considerations to be made about the lasting effects.
“We’ve also talked about, for example, protection of space environments versus the expansion into space environments. So, protection of the lunar surface, or the Martian surface, or asteroids or even orbit protection…