10 Winter / Hiver 2017 Lift Off Off In 1959, the UN General Assembly passed resolution 1348 (XIII) to establish the Com- mittee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) that later became a permanent body. To date, the committee meets an- nually in Vienna and has grown from the initial 24 member states and become one of the largest committees within the UN with 84 member states represented. Many of the activities are discussed by two subcommit- tees that focus on the technological and legal developments related to outer space. In 1963, COPUOS adopted the Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Uses of Out- er Space (aka, the Principles Declaration). However, these resolutions were not bind- ing, so in 1966, instructed by US President Lyndon B. Johnson, Arthur Goldberg, the US Ambassador to the UN, began writing a space treaty. Goldberg based the draft on the Principles Declaration and incorporated language on the peaceful uses of shared ter- ritories found in the 1959 Antarctic Treaty. This work culminated in the 1967 “Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celes- tial Bodies” most commonly known as the Outer Space Treaty (OST). The OST was opened for signatures on Janu- ary 27, 1967. Parallel signing ceremonies were held in London, Moscow, and in Wash- ington D.C., where Canada was represented by Geoffrey Murray, H. F. Clark, and Albert Ritchie respectively. The treaty entered into force on October 10, 1967 and, as of the writing of this article, the OST has been ratified by 106 nations (including the recent addition of Nicaragua in August 2017) and signed by a further 24 States. THE OUTER SPACE TREATY The OST consists of a preamble and 17 articles addressing different areas of space exploration. The remaining part of this sec- tion provides an overview of the treaty along with some historical background and examples of how these laws apply in today’s space industry. The preamble to the OST does not set any obligations to the signatories, however, it states the intended vision for interpreting all subsequent statements. The first five statements contain words like ‘inspired’, ‘be- lieving’, and ‘desiring’ to encompass the dreams of peaceful and collaborative uses of ORIGINS OF SPACE LAW The turn of the 20th century was filled with exciting telecommunication developments and aviation milestones that prompted the establishment of new legal regimes. Mar- coni’s first transatlantic signals paved the way for incorporating radio transceivers in ships for search and rescue operations. The benefits were undisputed, yet they were not formalized until the 1906 International Radiotelegraph Convention defined both the SOS distress signal and the first assignment of frequency bands for different applications [1].Similarly,advancementsinaviationledto the 1944 Convention on International Civil Aviation (aka, the Chicago Convention) gov- erning airspace, establishing requirements for aircraft registration, and defining safety standards [2]. In parallel, rocketry was tran- sitioning from science fiction to reality with by Dario Schor he more one learns about the 1967 Outer Space Treaty (OST), the more one can appreciate why it is often referred to as the Magna Carta of Space Law. This short docu- ment combines the different ideologies of the 1960s that included the geopolitical hostility from the Cold War and the visionary techno- logical outlooks from the engineering commun- ity. It is inspired to some extent by the utopian views of a generation that ushered in principles of human rights, peace, and environmental protection. Since its signing 50 years ago, this unique piece of legislation has provided the foundation for a responsible use of outer space that stimulated historic international collab- orations. In this column we reflect back on key developments in space exploration and how they have provided the impetus for expansion of the scope of the treaty. In the next column we cast our gaze forward to the next 50 years. Ad adstra, Dario Schor; schor@ieee.org contributions from Kostantin Tsiolkovsky in the USSR, later Robert Goddard in the United States, and others. The combination of new legal frameworks and the emerging field of rocketry gave rise to the first discus- sions about the laws of outer space. The early mentions on space law extrapo- lated on issues from aviation and radio com- munications as they would apply to the new domain. For example, in 1910, the Belgian lawyer, Emile Laude, posed issues of owner- ship and frequency allocation as it relates to space activities, and in 1926, the USSR of- ficial, V. A. Zarzar, questioned whether the domestic airspace legislation was applicable in outer space [3]. However, the first formal publication on space law is often attributed to the Czechoslovakian lawyer, Vladimir Mandl for his 1932 manuscript “Outer space law: A problem of astronautics” [4] where he described the differences between aviation and space law. Ultimately, all these scholars and others of the time agreed that the sover- eign extension of airspace above a nation would not be applicable and new laws were required for outer space. On October 4, 1957, the USSR launched Sputnik-1 instantly transforming the theory into a very real and serious discussion on the laws of outer space. This battery pow- ered, spherical, low orbiting spacecraft used four antennas to transmit limited telem- etry over open frequencies and frighten the public about the potential militarization of space. Wisely, other nations did not object to the spacecraft flying over their territor- ies, and set the precedent differentiating airspace from outer space. Within months, the United States launched Explorer-1 and other nations began experimenting with their own rocket technologies. The US State Department noted the rapid development of outer space and proposed the formation of a United Nations (UN) committee focused on the legal implications of spaceflight [2].