Creating a Spacefaring Civilization

By Pat Dasch
NSS Executive Director

Space Activism:
Developing An International Voice

This issue of Ad Astra focuses on international aspects of space exploration and development, and the National Space Society, as a pro-space activist organization will be emphasizing the importance of growing our international presence in the future.

More and more missions and space projects in both the government and commercial arenas involve partnerships from multiple nations. The International Space Station is the most visible of these, but it represents a far-reaching multinational approach to space that is the signature of current space activities. In the commercial sector, Sea Launch’s Russian, American, and Norwegian launch services partnership is a prime example of what we can expect in the future, blurring the idea of what constitutes a “national” space program.

An ever-increasing number of countries are entering space business both as providers and customers, creating a need for an informed global as well as public voice on space issues. NSS has made a good start. We currently have members in 37 nations including a significant population of chapters in Australia and a powerful ally in the Verein zur Förderung der Raumfahrt in Germany.

It is essential to coordinate space regulations internationally in order to facilitate and accelerate the growth of space commerce. The problems created in the last 18 months for multinational companies and international space business by the transfer of responsibility for export license authority for satellites and components from the Department of Commerce to the Department of State in the United States provide a prime example of the havoc that can be created and the damage that can be inflicted on the space industry by legislation that ignores the international perspective.

With the potential for the commercial development of products in space coming closer and more serious consideration being given to acquisition of space resources there is increased talk of revisiting the Moon Treaty of 1979 or developing legislation that builds on the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. All such international space legislation is handled by the United Nations and this is one reason that the National Space Society has recently applied to upgrade our U.N. status to that of observer. We believe the United Nations’ role in space legislation and regulation will increase substantially over the next few years as the uses of space grow and as more and more nations join the spacefaring community.

As a first demonstration of international cooperation, I hope that as many NSS members and chapters as possible will organize educational events and displays for the celebration of the U.N.-mandated second World Space Week this October (7-14 October 2001). I have reports from NSS members planning events in Alabama, Austria, Australia and New York City. Let’s aim for 100 NSS World Space Week events around the globe! Change starts with education and World Space Week offers an excellent opportunity to educate members of your community about the potential of space.
Ad Astra!