The Outer Space Treaty Of 1967: The International Community's Standards For Space Exploration
By | October 8, 2020
From the moment that man started venturing into space, it became clear that we needed rules to govern the vast reaches beyond the Earth. The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 ensures that spacefaring countries mind their Ps and Qs in the unknown, mostly by prohibiting the use of weapons of mass destruction in space and anyone from owning the Moon. Since 1967, more than 100 nations have agreed to this treaty that constructed the framework of how we're supposed to act as we establish a life in the stars.
Creating Jurisdiction Without Boundaries
In space, no one can hear you draw country lines, but that's exactly what the United Nations wanted to do as soon as the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957. Less than a year after Russia achieved one of the most important scientific advancements in the history of humanity, the U.N. called a general assembly named the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, or COPUOUS, to come up with rules for space and the possibilities of life off the planet. The committee is actually still together, boasting 77 members as of 2016, but in 1967, they could really only guess the kinds of regulations space travel might require.
The Outer Space Treaty Of 1967
While we refer to the Outer Space Treaty as the "Outer Space Treaty," its actual name is much less sci-fi but also more of a mouthful. "The Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies" just doesn't roll of the tongue, does it?
The main goal of COPUOUS was, and still is, to make sure that space isn't weaponized. Rather than a series of steadfast laws, COPUOUS mostly created a framework for future scientists and legal analysts to follow, but they were very specific that space and the celestial bodies therein should only to be used for peaceful purposes. To that end, Article IV of the Outer Space Treaty forbids military maneuvers or the establishment of military bases or installations of any kind. It distressingly permits the placement of weapons in orbit, but that's Future Us's problem.