The Outer Space Treaty Of 1967: The International Community's Standards For Space Exploration

By Jacob Shelton
(NASA)

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.