An IAS Fellowship Lecture by Dr Nikita Chiu (University of Exeter)
At the peak of the Cold War, the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project demonstrated successful docking of US and Soviet spacecrafts in orbit. The project illustrates that international co-operation could be possible even under the most testing political environment. Since Apollo-Soyuz, outer space exploration has been an area where the international community has demonstrated a considerable level of co-operation, successfully transcending geographical, national and cultural boundaries. In the age of global governance, international co-operation has never been more important in resolving today’s global challenges. One such challenge is the growing amount of space debris in orbit. If this challenge remains unresolved, it will not only undermine the space infrastructure, but will also hinder areas of sustainable development to which outer space activities contribute, such as satellite imaging for disaster warning and management, or for agricultural purposes.
To avoid Hardin’s scenario of the “tragedy of the commons”, space orbit and radio frequency are essential global commons that necessitate governance through co-operation. Nevertheless, with the imminent introduction of mega satellite constellations by private actors (e.g. OneWeb, SpaceX), and the recent dominance of adversarial narratives in space discussions, it has become exceedingly difficult for the international community to ensure the continuous peaceful and sustainable use of outer space resources. Examining historic and present cooperation and discord in the domain of space, this talk seeks to identify opportunities and challenges in moving forward global space governance, paying particular focus on plausible future(s) in space developments.
This lecture is free and open to all. Registration is not required to attend in person.