What would happen if we had no rules or regulations in space? Would we become a lawless society where anything goes?
Or would we create a new frontier where we can explore our universe freely?
Space has always fascinated us since ancient times. The idea of exploring outer space was once considered impossible.
Nowadays, we can travel into deep space thanks to advances in science and technology. Space exploration is a complex endeavor.
There are many challenges involved in traveling to other planets, such as limited fuel supplies and radiation exposure.
To ensure safety, NASA developed a series of guidelines called the Outer Space Treaty. These 11 laws are what keep our space safe.
The 11 Laws Of Space
No Country Can Claim Land In Space
No country is allowed to claim land in space.
This means that no matter how close a country gets to a planet, any claims made on its surface will be illegal.
Countries cannot lay claim to certain regions in space because it will potentially limit the ability to do research in these areas.
With further discovery and colonization efforts in mind, this rule plays an essential role in maintaining borderlands and peace.
This also means that when the USA planted their flag on the moon in 1969, it didn’t mean jack all.
They weren’t claiming the moon, as they couldn’t by law, but it was a pretty symbolic moment.
Space Is For Everyone
The outer space treaty specifically states, “Outer Space shall be free for exploration and use by all States.”
This means that no country can be banned from exploring space.
The reasoning behind this is that it would be unfair to let politics get in the way of making huge discoveries for all mankind.
Plus, things would get very messy if one country decided it could ban other countries from entering space.
Potentially nuclear war kind of messy.
Anyone Exploring Space Must Do So Peacefully
“The Moon and other celestial bodies shall be used exclusively for peaceful purposes”, the outer space treaty states.
Using the moon, or anything else in outer space, to start a war, or even end one, would be catastrophic, not to mention unfair.
This also means that no matter what is going on on Earth, outer space is not to be affected.
This is a particularly good rule because in the ISS International Space Station, there are astronauts of many different nationalities.
No matter what’s going on with their home countries down below, their mission must always be entirely peaceful.
This allows them to get on with the job without worrying about patriotism or politics.
No Military Bases
If we’re only allowed to explore space peacefully, what use would a military base be?
To avoid the temptation completely, the treaty has banned the building of any sort of military base in outer space.
It doesn’t matter where you build your base; whether it’s in orbit around Mars or just floating above Antarctica, it still won’t count.
This is because a military base is only needed by a military. And the military is only needed for one thing, war.
This flies directly in the face of peace. If a government wishes to create a base of some kind, then it can apply to NASA for permission.
However, the application process, like everything else in outer space, needs to follow the rules set out by the Outer Space Treaty.
The “Moon Agreement”
Because of the great space race between the Soviets and the USA, we’ve made huge advances in space.
One of the advances was that we were able to reach the moon. But reaching the moon left a lot of countries worried about the US’ intentions.
Thus in 1979, the Moon Agreement was forged, listing out the behavioral legalities of exploring the moon.
The first one is that the moon and other celestial bodies cannot be claimed.
The second part is that any person who does go into space must do so only on behalf of the United Nations.
For example, an American astronaut wouldn’t be permitted to shoot missiles at another state.
Another important note is that any research done in outer space must remain open source.
This means that all information regarding any discoveries, such as maps, plans, and theories, should be freely available to anyone who wants to study it.
No One Can Contaminate Space
NASA and any other space agencies are legally required to make sure they’ve done everything to avoid contaminating outer space.
Contamination in outer space is really bad because we could potentially give or get microbes that could wipe out entire species.
If you’ve ever seen the movie Alien, then you’ll know just how bad space contamination could be.
Anything Launched Into Space Must Be Registered
People are launching things into space every day—satellites, rockets, rovers, anything that will further our understanding of space.
But because there are so many things being launched, the Registration Convention was set up.
This was everything is registered, and if ever there’s a crash or something goes wrong- or even if something goes right and discovers something new, then we know who is responsible
Governments Are Responsible For Crash Damage
NASA is a government branch. SpaceX is not. One is owned by the US and the other is owned by Elon Musk.
However, if SpaceX was ever to have something crash, then it would be the responsibility of the government.
This is a legal technicality, but in practice, the US government has been known to let private agencies deal with their messes.
The “Liability Treaty”
The issue of things breaking and crashing was so big that NASA went one step further and created the liability treaty.
Basically, this is like Space insurance.
The treaty goes that whatever country owns the object responsible for causing damage, i.e., a satellite, then that country is on the hook for damages.
So far, no one has contested the treaty.
The “Rescue Agreement”
For all my space movie fans out there, you’ll love this one. “States shall take all possible steps to rescue and assist astronauts in distress.”
This is a direct quote from the rescue agreement, agreed in 1968.
So if ever there’s an astronaut in trouble, like in the movies, we’re legally obligated to help them.
Though whether this applies to animal astronauts is vague.
If it does, then we did a terrible thing by sending those dogs up there to die. Even if it doesn’t we still did a terrible thing.
US Citizens Can Harvest Minerals From Asteroids
Okay, so, if you’ve ever seen the movie ‘Don’t Look Up,’ then you’ll know just how much in poor taste this law is.
But it’s true; US citizens are allowed to harvest minerals from asteroids. This was written into the Space Act of 2015.
There You Have It
Now you know the 11 laws keeping space from becoming a lawless wasteland.
But some argue these laws and treaties are biased and unfair because of where they were developed and the countries involved in creating them.
What do you think?
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