Tensions in the Development of the Law of Outer Space
Katherine Gorove and Elena Kamenetskaya
The laws pertaining to activities in outer space developed rapidly during the more than two decades following the first satellite launching and led to the emergence of a new field of international law -- international space law. Although the development of new laws governing outer space activities has tapered off in the 1980s and early 1990s, the conduct of space activities has still resulted in the accumulation of a vast amount of space law.
Several trends in the pursuit of these activities have greatly affected the law and brought about long-standing debates over what to regulate and how to regulate. Clearly, the most important of these trends is the increase in commercial opportunities arising from outer space activities, which has created a burgeoning desire in private entities to engage in space-related activities and resulted in a larger number of space ventures. Yet because of the expense of pursuing activities in outer space which may or may not have commercial results, states have had to pool their financial and technical resources to ensure that their expenditures on space activities do not vastly outweigh the benefits of space activities, at least as perceived by the public. Because of the need to justify the expense of space activities, more countries are expressing an interest in carrying out activities, such as participating in maimed space flights, to pique the interest of the public and keep their support.
The possibility of commercial uses for outer space activities has led to an increase in national space laws as states have had to legislate domestically either to carry out international treaty obligations or to oversee