Place: Medialab-Prado. Plaza de las Letras, C/ Alameda, 15 · Madrid
The lawyer Rafael García del Poyo examines the need for the construction of a solid legal body which can regulate the increasingly extended exploitation of the Outer Space by humans, and all its potential in the current Information Society. The conference takes place in the context of The Commons or New Approaches into the Public Domain seminar.
On 4 October 1957, for the first time in history man had the chance to contemplate our planet from space. The launch of the satellite "Sputnik I" by the former Soviet Union represents a political, scientific and technological event of enormous importance that marks the beginning of the so-called “Space Age”.
Man’s arrival in space has helped us to understand the fragility of planetary systems and their complex relationships but it has also provided us with very valuable tools with which to confront many of the challenges that will be faced by humanity in the twenty-first century. Therefore, it is essential and very urgent to make adequate use of these tools in order to meet these challenges successfully. And we will only be able to do that if we manage to implement the right policies governed by legal norms and principles expressive of an idea of justice and order that help to regulate the diverse interests that necessarily come into play in international relations.
It is an undeniable fact that many of the objects launched into space point toward the Earth rather than toward the distant confines of the universe. For decades now, we have been using these stations, satellites, spaceships and telescopes to organise the use of natural resources and protect the environment, to obtain better meteorological services and more precise navigational aids; to transmit data and all kinds of communications; to manage telecommunications, electrical grids and global financial systems and to provide assistance in emergency situations. They also serve as a source of information for decision-making in areas ranging from agriculture to defence and – most recently – they have opened up new paths in education and medicine, in addition to contributing decisively toward the development of the information and knowledge society.
Obviously, the peaceful development of these space activities by the nations of the world requires a body of law that governs man's activities in this field. Ultraterrestrial space is an extraordinary environment from many perspectives, not the least interesting of which is the legal perspective.