Who Is In Charge Of Outer Space?

Who Is In Charge Of Outer Space?

The Outer Space Treaty, as it is known, was the second of the so-called “non-armament” treaties; its concepts and some of its provisions were modelled on its predecessor, the Antarctic Treaty. Like that Treaty it sought to prevent “a new form of colonial competition” and the possible damage that self-seeking exploitation might cause.

On June 16, 1966, both the United States and the Soviet Union submitted draft treaties. The U.S. draft dealt only with celestial bodies; the Soviet draft covered the whole outer space environment. The United States accepted the Soviet position on the scope of the Treaty, and by September agreement had been reached in discussions at Geneva on most Treaty provisions. Differences on the few remaining issues — chiefly involving access to facilities on celestial bodies, reporting on space activities, and the use of military equipment and personnel in space exploration — were satisfactorily resolved in private consultations during the General Assembly session by December. On the 19th of that month the General Assembly approved by acclamation a resolution commending the Treaty. It was opened for signature at Washington, London, and Moscow on January 27, 1967. On April 25 the Senate gave unanimous consent to its ratification, and the Treaty entered into force on October 10, 1967.

The substance of the arms control provisions is in Article IV. This article restricts activities in two ways: First, it contains an undertaking not to place in orbit around the Earth, install on the moon or any other celestial body, or otherwise station in outer space, nuclear or any other weapons of mass destruction. Second, it limits the use of the moon and other celestial bodies exclusively to peaceful purposes and expressly prohibits their use for establishing military bases, installation, or fortifications; testing weapons of any kind; or conducting military manoeuvres. After the Treaty entered into force, the United States and the Soviet Union collaborated in jointly planned and manned space enterprises.

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