An evolving space governance system: Balancing interests in five policy debates

Lindsey Wiser, Timiebi Aganaba

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Space exploration and utilization is a rapidly expanding sector, and there is growing consensus that the complex space governance system must evolve with it. Faced with this dynamic nature, we present a clear framework for conceptualizing the space governance system as a tool for discussions on space law and policy, demystifying its structure and the actors, instruments, and collaborations within it. We then consider key debates in the space policy field within this framework. We define four components of the space governance system: international space law, international agreements and policies, national laws and policies, and stakeholder inter-relations and standards. We visualize these components as concentric circles from the inside out. We consider the growing impact stakeholders such as private companies have on the space governance system and how that shapes people's mindsets about space. We then discuss five core debates in modern space policy: mega-constellations vs. maintaining a pristine night sky, entertainment vs. practicality, data sharing vs. privacy, common heritage of humankind vs. province of humankind, protection of the space environment vs. expansion. There is an evolution happening in the space regime, requiring us to adapt our understanding of the space governance system to one that is open textured. We must demystify its structure so it is more clearly understood, resulting in an interpretation that enables us to work towards a modernized system that maintains core principles of peace, cooperation, sustainability, and protection of the space environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalActa Astronautica
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Expansion
  • Governance
  • Mega-constellations
  • Policy
  • Space environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering


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