Letter from the Editors

Article excerpt

In October 1957, the USSR launched the Sputnik satellite into orbit and captured the imagination and fear of a generation. Fifty-five years of spaceflight later, an ever-increasing array of countries is scrambling for presence in space, an envelope of debris circles the Earth, and space policy is in need of reformation. The future holds even more uncertainty, as commercial, industrial, and political interests collide. As mankind stresses the Earth's physical capacity and continues to stretch the boundaries of knowledge, we are pushed at last to negotiate a new empire: space.

Our discussion is opened by astrophysicist Martin Elvis, who writes on die possibility of asteroid mining and the role of US capitalism in making this a reality. Next, Warren Ferster provides some background with a history of NASA's manned shuttle program and American space policy. The story is continued by Anthony Velocci, who describes the current advent of a commercial age in space, detailing the market for space tourism and financial investments in space. The conversation is taken global by Scott Pace of the Space Policy Institute, who provides an overview of the burgeoning international competition for space, and the attempts to create a "code of conduct" through international negotiation. Joanne Wheeler next takes up die subject, and argues that a change in legal thinking regarding space is required for peaceful international negotiation. Finally, Nicholas Johnson, NASA's Chief Scientist for Orbital Debris, closes with a highlight of the oft overlooked, but significant problem of space debris and die promising work of the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee.

In our Perspectives section, Amy Dean writes on the deep-rooted problems that spurred the Occupy Movement, providing a thoughtful analysis of this global phenomena. Next, New York Times best-selling author Gayle Tzemach Lemmon writes on the resilience and success of Afghan women despite the discriminatory forces of the Taliban. …