University of San Diego

San Diego Journal of Climate & Energy Law

Library of Congress Authority File


Outer space is truly the final frontier for both scientific exploration and frontier-style commercialization. Given its extra-national nature, international treaties have formed the basis of space law, but these treaties predate any notion of the true potential for space commercialization. The private sector has relied on this regulation-free industry when developing its spacecraft, mission structure, and operating procedures, often to the detriment of Earth's and its surrounding environment, with space debris, i.e. space junk or space trash, and greenhouse gas emissions being the primary externalities. This Comment provides a background on the commercial space industry and applicable law and treaties, the shortcomings of those bodies of law, and then proposes changes in order to proactively ensure that space commercialization does not increase at such a rate that ex post legislation and treaty ratification is rendered impossible by private sector interests.