Published on 12th January 2019 by

Space race is reality. But how do we prevent that the future life in space becomes a wild west? Space law has been there but is outdated. A new space law is urgently needed to have a civilized future life in space. How will the future space law look like? How do we shape with the new space law in mind our future life in space?

People have always been fascinated by outer space and curious about the stars, planets and extraterrestrial life. The century space has remained a great mystery and a source of outlandish stories from green Martians too deadly meteorites. Slowly but surely science is giving us more and more real knowledge thanks to satellites space flights and moon landings. It´s not science fiction anymore. Entering space has become a reality. You could end up with cowboys doing whatever they want and making a mess.

The colonization of space has only just begun. Numerous parties have great ambitions to explore outer space for tourism, transportation and raw materials. It’s a race, and slowly but surely, it’s becoming clear that there is a need for clear rules concerning the entering and use of this space. Space lawyer Frans von der Dunk is currently one of the few people in the world who is trying to shed some light on this. On a sunny morning in 1889, hundreds of covered wagons were ready to start a race. Under the motto ‘first come, first served’, settlers could claim their own piece of land. This Oklahoma Run got completely out of control.

Today, we’re on the eve of a new colonization: this time it’s outer space. The new space race is about the claims that can be made: to space itself and to the various planets and asteroids. Up till now, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty was the starting point for ‘space law’, but it’s completely outdated. The massive and irreversible space race which is about to start is crying out for a new legislation that’s clear to all parties involved. Frans von der Dunk, professor of Space Law at the University of Nebraska, has written the first manual for outer space. He hopes his book will become the first real standard work for the new space legislation.

Original title: race naar de ruimte
Originally broadcasted by VPRO in 2015.
© VPRO Backlight December 2015

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Director: Kees Brouwer
Research: Halil Özpamuk
Producer: Jeroen Beumer
Final edit: Marije Meerman/Doke Romeijn
English, French and Spanish subtitles: Ericsson.
French and Spanish subtitles are co-funded by European Union.


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