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Crowded OrbitsConflict and Cooperation in Space$
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James Clay Moltz

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231159128

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231159128.001.0001

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The Politics of the Space Age

The Politics of the Space Age

(p.35) 2 The Politics of the Space Age
Crowded Orbits

James Clay Moltz

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines the politics that surround human space activity. Space opened a vast new frontier for international law as it started out as an ungoverned environment without rules. During the Cold War, U.S.–Soviet treaties, international conventions, and regular communications helped prevent the escalating hostility between the two superpowers from moving to outer space. Their cooperation eventually led to the signing of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, the treaty that forms the basis of international space law. The treaty prohibits states from placing weapons of mass destruction in orbit of Earth, installing them on the Moon or any other celestial body, or to otherwise station them in outer space. It exclusively limits the use of the Moon and other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes and expressly prohibits their use for testing weapons of any kind, conducting military maneuvers, or establishing military bases, installations, and fortifications.

Keywords:   politics, human space activity, international space law, Cold War, 1967 Outer Space Treaty, weapons of mass destruction, orbit of Earth

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