International Institute of Space Law


Standardization as an Instrument of Cooperation: A Silver Lining for Harvesting Common Benefits on the Way Back to the Moon?

Keywords space law, standards, standardization, regulation, cooperation, space exploration
Authors Jenni Tapio en Alexander Soucek
Author's information

Jenni Tapio
Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland.

Alexander Soucek
European Space Agency (ESA).
  • Abstract

      Humankind’s return to the Moon has begun, and this time it will be a journey that builds upon six decades of spaceflight experience. Technical standards are capturing the essence of this experience and fill a gap left by space law. They provide for elaborated indications of what is to be regarded as diligent or negligent. Far from being law, they become benchmarks for lawfulness. However, their nature, objectives and consequences are not uniform, and whether or not they are adequate tools to precede or even substitute new legal norms, remains to be decided. Starting from the premise that standardization has the inherent potential to foster international space cooperation, this paper explores whether it may also be a way to enhance participation and benefits sharing in the new age of exploration. Can standards really open a level playing field that is so costly, complex and exclusive? Or are they, on the opposite, a means to raise the barrier such that only few can join the limited circle of lunar returners?

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