Above the Horizon: Developments and Challenges to National Security in Space Law and Policy

Hazel Hall Room 121
Monday, November 26, 2018 | 12am-2pm


NSI was proud to co-host a symposium with the National Security Law Journal on the military’s role in space.  The Symposium featured three distinguished experts in space law and policy as panelists: Dr. Brian Weeden, the Director of Program Planning at Secure World Foundation; David Koplow, a professor of international and national security law at Georgetown University Law Center; and Jack Beard, a professor in the Space, Cyber, and Telecom Program at Nebraska College of Law. NSI Visiting Fellow Kristen Hajduk served as moderator.

First, the panel discussed the applicability of international law and other contemporary legal questions in outer space. All panelists agreed that while international law principles apply in space, space is a unique domain requiring a different approach to legal challenges. For example, the increasing threat of orbital space debris demands global cooperation to ensure sustainability of space operations. Additionally, heightened commercial activity in space means that governments must engage in dialogue with a broad range of actors. International efforts to clarify the law of space as it exists are currently underway, including the Woomera Manual on the International Law of Military Space Operations.

Next, the panel spoke about some of the practical considerations for implementing a space strategy. Public attention to space operations was boosted earlier this year by President Trump’s executive order directing the Pentagon to begin planning for the creation of a separate space force. The panelists emphasized, however, that any major structural change would require congressional authorization. The Pentagon is expected to submit a legislative proposal to Congress in February 2019. The panelists noted that Congress’s treatment of the proposal will largely determine the future of space policy.