What Law Students Should Know About Space Law
Have you ever wondered if there are laws governing space? It is not surprising that most people don’t know that Space Law exists since it is is still the less evolved legal niche. Additionally, the term ‘Space Law’ sounds like a science fiction thing, yet it is a very real legal field that has existed since the 1960s.
Remember, we are venturing into a new era, an era of space exploration, with Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos leading the way. Notably, space exploration is simply turning from a scientific pursuit to a big business. And because of these, Space laws and regulations are now becoming more and more necessary for the next step of evolution.
So, what is space Law, and what do space lawyers do? Here is everything you need to know about this legal field.
What is Space Law?
Space law refers to a body of law that governs all space-related activities. Space and international laws are much alike in that it encompasses both domestic and international agreements, conventions, treaties. Furthermore, space law covers United Nations General Assembly resolutions and international organizations’ regulations.
The parameters of which this law covers are:
- Space exploration
- Environmental preservation
- Weapons use
- Liability for damage
- New technologies
- Rescue efforts
- Information sharing
Space law has also incorporated other fields of law, such as Commercial law, administrative law, Environmental law, Insurance law, Intellectual property law, Criminal law, and Arms control law.
With that said, let’s now define who a space lawyer is and what they do?
Who Is a Space Lawyer?
A space lawyer is a legal expert that is mandated with the jurisdiction to provide advice and prepare legal contracts on all space-related activities.
What Do Space Lawyers Do?
If you are planning to study space law or you are a space law student, then you might be wondering, ‘what will I be doing every day?’
Well, as a space lawyer, you will be supporting governmental or commercial space activities through various ways such as:
- Drafting and reviewing legal documents
- Attending meetings and negotiations
- Providing advice on space-related matters
- Drafting contracts
Basically, all you will do is provide thoughts and advice for all space-related activities.
How Much and What Do I Need to Study?
What are some of the qualifications, including studies do you need to qualify as a space lawyer?
Well, depending on your country, qualifications will be different. However, in almost every country, you will first need to have a bachelor’s degree in law (LLB). This is essential in ensuring that you know all the basics of the legal system. This stage is also necessary to teach you many exciting things that you will not learn when training for a ‘space lawyer’ profession.
After that, you will need to become a licensed lawyer. This license is a necessary requirement in any country because it allows you to practice any kind of law as a lawyer. It is also important to note that you can’t become a space lawyer without being a certified lawyer.
Now in order to work as a space lawyer, you will need to continue studying to attain a master’s degree (LLM). For this, you will have to find a university that offers space-related study programs such as space and telecommunication law or any master’s program in air and space law. Several universities or law schools in the united states offer space-related Masters’s programs, so be sure to check them out.
Is that all? Well, no.
For those of you who want to be experts in this legal field, you will need to have a Ph.D. You will need to dive back into your studies and finalize it with a doctoral thesis on a space law topic to earn this.
And yes, all these seem quite a lot but remember, space law is way advanced and a dynamic field to work in. overall, with will be an interesting journey if you choose to pursue this field. For more on how to become a space lawyer, be sure to check Education Curriculum on Space Law by UNOOSA.
Where Can I Work?
Space law offers you several career opportunities in which you can venture. Here are some of the main places you can work as a space lawyer:
- Space agency or ministry (i.e., NASA): This is the right place for you to work in if you prefer to work for the government
- You can also work at a law firm that specializes in space law.
- Working at a research institute or University is another option, more so if you favor academia
- The space industry in a commercial space company is another place you can work with.
In general, there are two main areas handled by space lawyers when dealing with outer space law. These areas include:
- Domestic space law: This area comprises laws stipulated by each state and governs any space-related activities within each state.
- International space law: This law governs the relations between two countries on space-related matters.
And to help you with your space law studies, Title 51 USC gives you free access to all details on National and Commercial Space Programs that you should know. You can also check out the European Centre for Space Law (ECSL) to learn a thing or two about European space laws that might help you with international relations.