Legal & Policy Issues in the New Orbital Economy
McDonald Hopkins' Stephen Robison will be speaking as part of a panel during this virtual event presented by the Cleveland State University College of Law. The panel discussion will start at 2:15 PM and will cover orbital human spaceflight and private space stations.
While NASA and its Artemis program partners take the first steps toward establishing a permanent human presence on the Moon, equally transformational developments are taking place closer to home as private companies take the place of government agencies in orbital operations. Rather than serving as the prime contractor that hires companies as subcontractors, NASA and other governmental agencies will now (as customers) purchase from private companies those services needed to build, transport, and operate satellites and other assets in orbit. At the same time, companies are inventing entirely new (or “nontraditional”) products and services, such as satellite megaconstellations, on-orbit satellite repair and refueling, laboratory facilities on privately-owned space stations, the removal of orbital debris, and tourism.
These dramatic changes in the orbital economy raise several challenges with respect to public policy and the regulatory landscape. Some commentators have even expressed concern of a “regulatory gap” that could put the United States in jeopardy of violating its duty under international law to supervise private space activity. This situation, in which there is an expectation of legislation in the near future but uncertainty about its nature, creates a lack of regulatory clarity that causes concerns for businesses and their investors.
The purpose of this symposium is to provide a neutral platform for stakeholders to identify and discuss these issues with an eye to finding solutions that meet the requirements of international law, address public policy concerns, and provide regulatory clarity to the private sector and its investors. The symposium will feature approximately twenty thought leaders from industry, government, civil society, and academia who will participate in five 45-minute moderated panels designed to encourage a dynamic and creative conversation.