The Outer Space Treaty establishes a standard of international law in space. However, it contains a number of important provisions that seem very idealistic, and which might have been assented to because at the time it was ratified, they were not expected to become an issue in the near term.

For example:

  • No weapons of mass destruction in space: Would become a problem if somebody saw a major military advantage in doing this -- and notable because this might get outside the structure of MAD. Also problematic because industrial nuclear explosives, such as terraforming explosives or Orion pulse units, are potentially incredibly valuable.
  • No territory claims on celestial bodies: Becomes problematic once colonization or just the building of large, permanent installations is possible.
  • Rule that states are responsible for and must direct and supervise nonstate actors: Becomes somewhat problematic if space travel becomes sufficiently casual.

The other important treaty would be the Limited Test Ban Treaty, which bans nuclear explosions in the Earth's atmosphere and in space, and which effectively bans the use of the Orion Drive, even though the Orion Drive would potentially be incredibly valuable for commercial and military purposes.

Both of these treaties have been signed by every country likely to enact space travel projects in the near term.

Is there any distinct sign that people whose decisions matter are chafing at any of the restrictions of these treaties, or seeking withdrawl or exemption from them?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ On-topic here, but questions about "distinct sign (of) chafing" at treaty restrictions also have a place in Politics SE, there's a space tag there with 14 questions so far (okay five of them are mine). $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jun 9, 2020 at 9:45


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