The limits of law: Challenges to the global governance of space activities

Steven Freeland*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The development of space-related technology since the dawn of the 'space age' in 1957 has given rise to many new and exciting possibilities. Humankind is now seeking to embark on a broad range of space activities and the utilization of this technology forms an integral element of the global society, such that the world is dependent upon constant and unimpeded 'access' to space. Yet, the existing international legal and governance framework, largely developed in a very different era of space activities (1960s-1980s), is now under strain to provide the necessary certainty, standards and protections to appropriately address specific uses of space that have emerged due to recently evolving space technologies. This gives rise to a number of significant challenges for the ongoing global governance of the use and exploration of outer space and, in particular, humankind's interaction with, and dependency on space-related technology. Important questions arise as to how to address these challenges in a way that will enable humankind to continue to use space for peaceful purposes and to garner significant benefits through such use for the benefit of the global society. This article highlights some of the major challenges that arise and outlines important factors that must be considered in developing appropriate legal, regulatory and policy frameworks for future space activities, so as best to serve the interests of current and future generations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-82
Number of pages13
JournalJournal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


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