Australian academic group to review Outer Space Treaty


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Another op-ed today once again notes that the Outer Space Treaty needs updating, and notes that an Australian working group linked to an academic international space conference in Australia in September will be reviewing the treaty and suggesting future revisions.

In late September 2017, Adelaide will host the largest space-related meeting on the annual calendar – the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC). In more recent years, there has been a companion conference just prior to the IAC – the Space Generation Congress (SGC). This was initiated on the request of states through the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space to represent the interests of the next generation in outer space.

At the SGC, a group of young Australians will lead a working group of delegates from across the globe, to develop and propose a set of supplementary protocols to the OST, in order to adapt global space governance to the needs of the next 50 years.

The article emphasizes that any changes to the treaty should be made with future generations in mind, and this is one reason the members of the working group are being drawn from the Space Generation Congress, since this is an event comprised mostly of students. That they are modern academic students is nonetheless worrisome, considering the increasingly oppressive culture of modern academic student communities. I fear that their naive effort to establish rules will be based too much on the good intentions of young people, and we all know what path that puts us on.

A personal note: I will have another op-ed published this week by The Federalist on the recent efforts in both houses of Congress to deal with the Outer Space Treaty, and it includes my detailed analysis of the proposed space law that was approved by a House committee in early June.

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9 comments

  • Wayne

    Are these “Space Generation Congress” people, connected with the “Starship Congress”people, in any way?

    Don’t want to go off topic but I listened to The Space Show a few days ago with the Starship Congress Guys– struck me as quintessential sickly-sweet, progressive, statist, double-talk, under the guise of space exploration & colonization.

    -Looking forward to the Federalist piece!

  • Wayne: I do not know if there is a connection between the two groups, but your comment compelled me to take a look at the Space Generation Congress website. I suspect that much of what goes on at these conferences has been exactly as you predict. However, I also think that the more success the private sector has in space, the more influence it will have at these conferences.

  • wayne

    Thank you.

    So, I see the Space Generation people, are hooked up with the United Nations. That, is just never a good thing. (It just isn’t. Not really.)

    I don’t want to completely slander the Starship Congress people, but what I heard from those two guys for 90 minutes (and my 1st introduction to them), was way tooo much progressive-statism for me. They have a political-agenda I can’t quite put my finger upon, it’s just wrapped up in a smiley face, in Space.
    (I’m doubting it includes free-market solutions to the Big Questions.)

  • Michael

    “Participants are top university students and young professionals” and “SGC is proudly endorsed by the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs ” pretty much tells you everything you need to know.

    Over at the Space Review is an article regarding “Common Heritage of Mankind (CHM)” and extraterrestrial resources. For those who thought “space was hard” it looks like it is about to get a whole lot harder.

    Thank God for the Chinese.

  • Mike Borgelt

    Australia has VERY, VERY little presence in the space business and no intention of having any. Ignore these communists.

  • Edward

    From the op-ed: “Indeed, the treaty has (thus far) successfully created an environment that has prevented warfare in space. Its binding provisions are not only legally defensible, but have also historically reinforced an overwhelming political dynamic to refrain from overt military action in space.

    Is the lack of warfare in space because of the treaty or is it because, thus far, no spacefaring nations have gone to war with one another?

    Even without “overt military action” in space, we have plenty of fallout that looks similar to the results of warfare in space. China’s anti-satellite warfare test in 2007 has resulted in at least one collision with an existing satellite. The treaty is supposed to make nations responsible for their own debris in space, but that seems to be a provision that is not so binding as the article suggests.
    https://www.space.com/20138-russian-satellite-chinese-space-junk.html

    Robert commented: “The article emphasizes that any changes to the treaty should be made with future generations in mind, and this is one reason the members of the working group are being drawn from the Space Generation Congress, since this is an event comprised mostly of students. That they are modern academic students is nonetheless worrisome, considering the increasingly oppressive culture of modern academic student communities. I fear that their naive effort to establish rules will be based too much on the good intentions of young people, and we all know what path that puts us on.

    The naive effort to establish rules based on the good intentions of young people reminds me of the hippy generation, which has given us gender confusion, unsustainable national debt, the lousy education system that fails to prepare today’s students for college, and (as Paul Spudis put it in his book, “The Value of the Moon”) an abundance of strategic confusion in the American civil space program. The hippy generation — like impulsive, inexperienced toddlers — chose the immediate gratification of ice cream (or should I say cigarettes?) rather than a healthy future.

    Worse than the “oppressive culture of modern academic student communities,” if the rules for the future of space are based upon fantasy wishes of those who have no concept of living, working, operating, travelling, or doing business there, then their recommendations have no value. Without understanding what it takes to provide for a healthy future, we cannot expect them to make choices that will produce one. This is why the OST is such a mess in the first place — few people back then knew what space was like and what we would need to explore, use, live, and work in it, and those few people were not asked.

    Those who are to define the future should have some concept of the present and the past. To determine the needs of the future, they need to know something about where we are, why we are here, and how we got here, and they need a realistic vision of the future. They need to be those who have successfully started or run space businesses, those who have tried but failed to start or run space businesses, and those who are currently active in starting space businesses. They need to know the problems to be overcome and need to have succeeded in overcoming some of them as well as what is needed to overcome current and anticipated problems.

    The group defining the future also needs to cover all these same areas for those who have lived or wish to live in space as well as do science and exploration in space. These are the people who know what the problems are, and they are motivated to keep space a war-free debris-free zone. Even the world’s military men need to have a say in how to keep space war-free and safe, yet useful to them.

    If those who are making the decisions for the future of space travel, exploration, and use think that space works the same way as shown in the movies “Gravity” and “Armageddon,” or think that someone can successfully navigate space by imitating “Iron Man,” as at the end of the movie “The Martian,” then the future of space is doomed.

    Just as with the original OST, those who are ignorant of the problems are not capable of creating solutions.

  • Mike Borgelt: It will be a mistake to ignore the recommendations put forth by this UN group. They have influence, even they do nothing in space. If we do not challenge them right now we will get a disaster, just as we now have a disaster in the entire American educational community, because everyone ignored the leftists as they slowly imposed their will on that community, including blacklisting any opposition.

    Now is the time to fight back, when they are weak. If we wait they will impose their will on the law of outer space, and it will be a bad law.

  • LocalFluff

    The only thing important, and the only possible purpose of an “International Space Treaty”, is to maximize the influence of China, Iran and Putin on how it should be formulated.

    That’s why I am totally against any kind of “treaty” of the US with anyone else.
    The US already has the best laws in the world (believe it or not!) and the best is to implement those same laws to all of the universe, to magnify that legal national success infinitely.

  • LocalFluff: You might want to read my first op-ed on this subject here. I propose exactly what you suggest, which is that either the U.S. get out of the Outer Space Treaty, or get it revised so that we can claim territory under an international treaty and thus establish U.S. law wherever in space we settle.

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