REVIEW: Article

Space Solutions and Human Security and Development

My name is Edward R. Finch, Jr. I am happy to speak to you at this 2002 World Space Congress, as a former official United States (US) delegate to UNISPACE III. Currently, I am Co-Chair of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) Committee on Scientific-Legal Liaison. My topic is: “Space Solutions and Human Security and Development,” and I will address it from my perspectives as a lawyer, author and diplomat. What is the optimum role of civil society, of corporate and private entities, of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and of the United Nations (UN) for sustainable space tools for human security and development and for building working partnerships?

This is the twelfth in a series of joint workshops organized by the UN and the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) with the goal of strengthening the capacity of developing countries to use space technology for their social and economic development. This is an ideal forum for strengthening the links between the space community and decision-makers devoted to meeting the basic needs of people in developing countries.

The basic role of civil society encompasses participation plus leadership and money. Today, there are about 1,000 UN NGOs with space interests or needs. The IAA Acta Astronautica magazine has published several economic space industry participation papers and analyses.  The National Space Society’s Ad Astra magazine also has published economic space industry articles. The most comprehensive legal-commercial research to date is found in two volumes from the Cologne Institute of Air and Space Project entitled, “Commercial Satellite Telecommunications and Commercial Launch Services,” by Dr. Karl Keinz Boeckstiegel.

The perennial question is: Do space projects of all kinds need to have a nationality?  For sustainable development, we vitally need sustained funds over time for new legal-practical science technologies. There is a need now for more private-government and NGO implementation of UNISPACE III resolutions.

My paper has four parts: (1) scope and policy; (2) sustainable human development; (3) terrorism’s costs and risks for development; and, (4) conclusion.

Sustainable Human Development

Let’s review what the UN is doing now to promote the role of civil society in using space tools. The United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS) is a key promoter, along with certain strong space industry-government corporations.  Recently (only in the past three years) business/corporate organizations have joined with UN COPUOS and were invited to participate actively.

New ideas for technical civil use are born in the outer space and military establishments of developing and developed countries. Aerospace Corporation’s “collision situational awareness” satellite project is an excellent example. Civil society, through the Internet and space, has developed many new human ideas in medicine and environment.  These have been circulated around the world by NGOs, the World Health Organization, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and many other UN agencies.

 New ideas coming from outer space applications are covered in the NASA booklets, Spin-offs from Outer Space. These new space ideas now are catalogued in the thousands! One of the most interesting in space sustainable development for the future is a study conducted over the past 12 years at Princeton University’s Space Studies Institute. Distinguished scientists, lawyers, and civil society representatives wisely combined civil space research and space manufacturing under the 1967 Outer Space Principles Treaty, signed by some 122 nations. The combination of research and manufacturing is both legal and practical for all nations for the future sustainable technical development and settlement of outer space.

Article VI of the 1967 Outer Space Principles Treaty prohibits weapons of mass destruction and covers human and environmental planetary defense to rescue Earth from destructive collision from comets and asteroids. Today’s access to space has given mankind the means for the first time to protect Earth from destruction. At present, the Alliance to Rescue Civilization and US Space Command are the main providers.

Government and civil space stations already provide the technology and the experience needed to live and work in outer space’s useful microgravity.  Solar cells are used for an abundance of sun-generated electric power. Why not a Moon lab-manufacturing permanent colony soon? We walked on the Moon 30 years ago! Please remember the Japanese Selina B, and Selina 2, Ice Breaker Moon Rover, the Clementine mission, Lunar Prospector Mission, ESA (ESTEC) Smart I and II Luna Satellite mission. All are successful recent lunar orbiting missions under the International Lunar Exploration Working Group (ILEWG).

I believe that we will see space research/manufacturing sustained on the Moon before the end of the second decade of this millennium—and on Mars in the following 20 years. A Moon lab with a Moon telescope also would be a big boost for a new lab and would provide a home for Space Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Materials and research on and from the near side and the far side of the Moon are needed.

On the far side of the Moon, there is little atmospheric or manmade interference. This “quiet cone” provides a particularly wonderful deep space research location.  Perhaps a future Hubble Space Telescope should go there, instead of in orbit! The Moon poles have some water. Mars has water and hydrogen. Electric Ion propulsion, hydrogen and plasma uses are three of this millennium’s best new practical technologies. The civil space technology is here. There is solid sustainable research and tested planning discussions regarding a radio lab on the far side of the Moon (for the interference avoidance benefits). Dr. C. Maccone of IAA points this out in his two books: Telecommunications KLT and Relativity, which discusses interstellar flight, and Proposed Space Missions, which uses the sun. Perhaps we should go to the Moon first as a stepping stone to Mars and deep space for new effective sustainable benefits. The Moon and outer space are still largely peaceful because of information technology (IT), self-interest, and strong UN space treaties. 

When we consider the role of civil society as a sparkplug igniter to using space tools, we also must remember the many private organizations. The US has the Planetary Society, the National Space Society and the Luna Corp. The National Space Society, a private NGO, was granted official Permanent Observer Status at the UN. The National Space Society’s mission statement supports all permanent space settlements, besides the Moon, Mars or as now suggested an asteroid or a comet.

The world’s leading institution in planetary exploration is the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), operated by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. In over 40 years of activity, JPL has successfully sent into space a string of automatic probes that have actually visited all of the planets, except Pluto.

The astonishing pictures these probes sent back to Earth opened new perspectives not only in astronomy and planetary science, but also in the very understanding of what is the position of humankind in the universe.  The search for life in our planetary system and elsewhere in the Galaxy (SETI) has gained broader interest.  And the search for new Earths that could harbor life will probably become the most important area of scientific research in the new millennium.

In particular, in the case of Mars, the continuous presence of automatic spacecrafts in the neighborhood of this planet, is expected to last at least until 2015 or later. Mars is thus in a state of permanent observation by NASA and by the international scientific community.  As usual, JPL is taking a leading role in this exploration process.

The question of whether the Moon should be a stepping stone to Mars is undecided at this time. Whatever the final decision, however, it is clear that robotic exploration must first prepare all the requested infrastructures on the surface of the selected body, thus leaving humans to focus on the task of exploration itself.

NASA and JPL have demonstrated their capabilities to meet the challenges in both Lunar and Martian exploration. When this is completed in conjunction with other international space institutions like IAF, IAA, and the International Institute of Space Law (IISL), the final result can only be sustainable development in the world’s space activities. 

The United Nations Association New York Chapter, and its parent, the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA), are moving ahead rapidly in 2002, to open new opportunities through civil society, including the UNA-USA Business Council for the United Nations and the UN Council of Organizations. The UN Council of Organizations has been actively working on the UN Conference for Financing for Development, and is supporting the Secretary-General of the UN on global space contacts for business and the private sector.

The 15 nation Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) dated January 29, 1998, that governs the cooperation on the International Space Station and specifically  the jurisdiction and control of flight elements and of personnel is a space human security model.  Intelsat, Eutelsat, Inmarsat, and UNIDROIT are government-civil operating models. The US Congress will consider the “Space Exploration Act of 2002” (H.R. 4742), which provides specific goals for space transportation technologies to specific destinations, including back to the Moon and Mars.  

Cooperation in science and law is a key in maximizing the economic and human benefits of products and services derived from space technology. Space international cooperation provides mutual benefits.  It is strong because of clear national self-interest.   For example, when contracted to build sustainable satellite systems for developing countries, private companies train engineers and technicians from those countries in satellite design and assembly.  That enables the ultimate consumers of the technology to use it effectively in its intended manner without having to constantly resort to the manufacturer for advice and assistance.  Moreover, it has greatly enhanced the indigenous capability of the consumer in developing countries.

Terrorism: Costs and Risks for Development

The largest cost threat to space solutions for global problems of civil society for sustainable development is terrorism. Indeed there are many non-space national (and also semi-private) financial demands that compete directly for limited annual civil society national funds. This economic competition for funds, public and private, is true in all nations of the world.  Cost escalation for food, environment and social welfare is now most clearly reflected in the finances of Russia, Japan, the United States, Israel, and even Saudi Arabia. This cuts government and civil funds for new peaceful and sustainable space innovations and initiatives.

Military actual and covert warfare against terrorism takes the largest share of all nations’ “available” funds for sustainable space development. The cost last year for the US alone was $24 billion dollars. What are UN officials doing about the cost of terrorism, and sustainable space development?  Indeed, there is a lot!  The available funds go mostly to Earth bound human security not to new space development. So the majority of new civil government funds spent on terrorism represent both a benefit and a detriment to human space sustainable development and survival. 

In the terrorism/human security area, many UN observers were amazed to see how effectively and decisively the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council responded after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US that killed approximately 3,000 civilians. The UN promptly adopted two far-reaching resolutions that are now binding on its 189 member States. Resolution 1368 (2001) dated September 12 condemned the terrorist attacks against the US and called upon all UN members to bring the perpetrators to justice. 

UN Resolution 1373 (2001) of September 28 requires that each Member State fight terrorism, pursue terrorist human, physical, and financial resources, cut off terrorist funding and ratify all UN-promulgated current antiterrorism treaties. Approximately 155 countries have already responded to the UN and the US.

Many funds that might have gone to space development are now used to stop nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons of mass destruction. The UN and the US have taken strong actions. We need to fund civil and government space intelligence resources to prevent future terrorist attacks, so that the world can get on with much more funds for new technical sustainable space development. In the legal arena, current technical development news is found in Acta Astronautica (Vol. 50, No. 12, pp. 747-757, 2002.) Overall, there are 29 UN agencies pursuing aggressive, anti-terrorist programs. 


In conclusion, outer space development is of current vital importance to world peace because it promotes multinational outer space large and small satellite international projects. In the voluntary compliance programs and those that are being followed by many nations of the world through the UN Space Treaties, the highest cost and danger to future space development is terrorism, space contamination, and space debris.  The International US Interagency Space Debris Council works well, as does NASA, with many international peaceful space projects. Comets, asteroids, and space debris can become a serious future threat to all orbiting satellites, including present and future space stations.

The United Nations General Assembly document A/Ac.105-c.1-L217 of January 12, 1998, states that there are strong efforts by civil organizations (in two main categories) applicable immediately to forestall and prevent the dangers from space debris to the satellites of developing and developed countries. Presently, there are active national and civil voluntary protections built into the original design of satellites. Here again costs are a driving force for money for sustainable space development. These peaceful voluntary space debris safety measures are being followed currently by almost 100 nations. In category one, there are now certain known limited changes to the original satellite designs with little cost impacts for new satellites. Category two, “Preventive Safety Measures,” includes voluntary satellite options that require significant design changes. These have been followed voluntarily to an amazing extent (despite their high cost) by a number of satellite manufacturers and operators in the past. Self-interest and self-preservation are driving factors.

There is also the potential space debris de-orbit, like Russia’s MIR, or the removal at the end of a mission, to an Earth friction heat disposal orbit of natural destruction, with an apogee below 100 miles. Again, all nations’ self-interest is avoidance of future satellite destruction by nuclear contamination, or by space debris. 

Future US consideration of permanent peaceful human space colonies was made by the Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist. He states:

  • “Authority in outer space societies, exercised under principles of representative government appropriate to the circumstances and degree of community development, shall reflect the will of the people of those societies.
  • All petitions to the United States government from outer space societies under its jurisdiction shall be accepted and receive prompt consideration.
  • The United States shall provide for an orderly and peaceful transition to self-governance by outer space societies under its jurisdiction at such times as their inhabitants shall manifest clearly a belief that such a transition is both necessary and appropriate.
  • In response to aggression, threats of aggression or hostile actions, outer space societies may provide for their common defense and for the maintenance of essential public order.
  • Outer space societies shall assume all rights and obligations set forth in treaties and international agreements, relevant to the activities of such societies, to which the United States is a party and which further freedom, peace and security.
  • The advancement of science and technology shall be encouraged in outer space societies for the benefit of all humanity.
  • Outer space societies shall protect from abuse the environment and natural resources of the Earth and space.”

The UN Charter and the UN should and will play a key role in the economic and human development and peaceful settlement(s) of outer space in this and future millenniums.

For the IAA, I wrote an “Academy Note,” now available in four languages called the “Magna Carta of Outer Space,” as follows:

The Magna Carta of Outer Space

  1. Outer space is the key to world peace.
  2. Outer space requires long range, consistent policy planning to be successful, economically and scientifically.
  3. Outer space is inherently international by nature.
  4. Outer space holds an important solution to the global resources shortages, and needs of every nation.
  5. Outer space is a key factor for world information, world trade, national development and national security.
  6. Outer space progress will be advanced by the maximum number of nations participating in a space policy, agreement, or project.  Thus the greater is the non-threat to any nation’s national security, the greater the world popular support, and the greater the contribution to world peace.
  7. Outer space is necessary for all nations for command, control, communications and intelligence, and for national security.  For all nations these common problems and their solutions are compounded by timing and scientific breakthroughs. The geostationary orbit is important for all nations.
  8. Outer space balance of power is necessary for the peace of all nations.
  9. Outer space economic demands on all nations compete with national economic demands of every nation.
  10. Outer space manned or unmanned space stations on the Moon, Mars or elsewhere in outer space, are the economic and scientific steps to the future of outer space for the true benefit of all nations and of all mankind.

Here are the world policy building blocks for space sustainable development for the future. Use them wisely for all future space solutions for space human security and development.

Ad Astra. [*]

[*]Editor’s Note:  Ambassador Finch delivered this statement at the World Space Congress in Houston, Texas    on October10, 2002. The ideas expressed in this paper are the author’s alone and should not be attributed to any other person or organization.

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Co-Chair, International Academy of Astronautics (IAA);
Committee on Scientific-Legal Liaison;
United States Ambassador to Panama, 1972