Louis D. FriedmanApr 25, 2009

More from the Conference on NEO Law and Policy

by Louis D. Friedm

Later on Thursday at the Conference of NEO Law and Policy, Sergio Camacho -- Secretary-General of the Regional Center for Space Science and Technology Education for Latin America and the Caribbean, and former head of the UN Office of Outer Space Affairs -- reported that the UN General Assembly will receive the report on NEO threats from the Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

I chaired the afternoon session on the Legal, Policy and Institutional Aspects of NEO Threat Mitigation. I discussed the Society's Shoemaker Grant program and recounted our history in the subject of NEOs. I then challenged the participants to give an argument to a politician as to why he or she should support legislation or funding on something that is almost certainly not to have any consequences during his or her political term, or even while he or she is alive (unlike many other political issues). No one picked up that challenge.

Ray Williamson of the Secure World Foundation described the role of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in making international policy about planetary defense. He cited The Planetary Society, the Association of Space Explorers, the International Academy of Astronautics, the International Astronautical Federation, the Space Generation Advisory Council and his own Secure World Foundation. (Members of The Planetary Society will recognize these organizations as ones we collaborate and partner with.)

Ray recommended we (NGOs) develop discussions with the larger group of organizations concerned about humanitarian, disaster response and human security, since all these issues will be involved should there be a NEO impact in a populated area. This is something we have started through our association with the NGO subcommittee of the UN Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

Following Ray's talk, Agnieszka Lukaszczyk of the Space Generation and Ben Baseley-Walker of Secure World described their organizations' activities.

The final talk of the first day came from Europe (via Skype): Adres Galvez reported on the European Space Agency activities concerning NEOs. Dr. Galvez is an organizer of the Granada Planetary Defense conference happening next week.

On Friday morning, Frans von der Dunk, the Chair and chief organizer of this conference, reviewed various nations' approaches to licensing space exploration activities. This is relevant both to missions related to NEO impact threat (especially involving mitigation) and to those involving exploitation or utilization of NEOs.

Later, Veteran space lawyer Leslie Tennen gave a very nice overview of laws and regulations applicable to private activities in space and to claims for property rights or use of extraterrestrial resources.

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