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Jun 9, 2020

Imagining safety zones: Implications and open questions

Posted by in categories: geopolitics, law, policy, space travel, treaties

In May, NASA announced its intent to “establish a common set of principles to govern the civil exploration and use of outer space” referred to as the Artemis Accords.[1,2] The Accords were released initially as draft principles, to be developed and implemented through a series of bilateral agreements with international partners.

The Accords offer the possibility to advance practical implementations of long-held principles in the Outer Space Treaty (OST). They raise a rich set of policy questions as we begin to take the law into new levels of resolution. This bold pursuit of uncharted territories is to be applauded, and yet, there is also the risk of diverging from 53 years of international law.

One the ten principles is focused on Deconfliction of Activities, with “safety zones” named as a specific mechanism of implementation:

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