SPACE COLONIZATION AND THE LAW
William J. Brennan, Jr.
Associate Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court
FORUM ON SPACE LAW, at the
Bicentennial Conference of Judges of
United States Courts of Appeals on
October 26, 1988,
Volume 3, Spring Issue, 1990
NOTE: Following the closing paragraph is the statement: “This text is a slightly modified version of the remarks of Justice Brennan to the Bicentennial Conference of Judges of United States Courts of Appeals on October 26, 1988. A more comprehensive ‘space history’ document that may interest employees in government, industry, and teachers is at:
(quoting Judge Brennan): This Bicentennial Conference of Judges of United States Courts of Appeals has been discussing what the future holds for the role of the federal appellate judiciary. I’m going to continue on the same line but, after you’ve heard me, you may think that what I say is pure fantasy and that I’ve taken leave of my senses. Because I’m going to say something about the law and Outer Space–and specifically what prospect there is for involvement of the law and courts and lawyers in the still mysterious but surely burgeoning evolution of humankind’s effort to conquer the far reaches of the Universe.
Can it be that human beings shall indeed colonize the moon and Mars and even farther reaches of the heavens? Does the nation’s reentry into the fray, signaled by the successful flight of Discovery, answer with an emphatic yes? Recently, the administration funded NASA with about 900 million dollars to begin work on a space station; a project estimated to cost upwards of thirty billion dollars by the time it is finally assembled in orbit in the late 1990s. Apparently about twenty shuttle flights would be required over a three-year period to haul the station components into orbit for assembly there. Several shuttle flights would then be needed to ferry people and research equipment to and from the station.
A “visions” committee of NASA is pondering a permanent base on the moon and human exploration of Mars. And not long ago, The Washington Post reported that then President Reagan, with the five astronauts of the shuttle Discovery beside him at Houston, proclaimed that “America must lead the effort to colonize space, because in the next century leadership on Earth will come to the nation that shows the greatest leadership in space.
Poll of the Week
Could your inbox use a little more awesome?
Sign up to get a daily dose of awesome gov-focused resources, trainings, blogs and articles to help you do you job better.