Catalyst: Space, the final frontier, may need rules to maintain peace

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The exploration of space leads to newer and better technology, but there’s one part of space exploration that’s still dangerously low-tech: the rules. Most places away from our planet are a kind of wild west with no sheriff, and no judges.

“If our presence in space winds up looking like the wild west then we will wind up, eventually with fences, boundaries, property lines, claims for mineral rights, claims for water rights… basically all the things that people have always fought over in the past,” said Steve Filmer, executive producer of “Catalyst.”


There has been minimal conflict between nations over what lies beyond the atmosphere, but, as more and more countries become involved in studying the cosmos, conflict may be inevitable.

“[As] we’re increasing the amount of activism, increasing the number of launches: the risks increase. So the idea is how do we now start to minimize risks,” said Timiebi Aganaba-Jeanty, an ASU assistant professor looking into the future of innovation for society.

“So thinking about what things do we put in space and what kind of rules can we put in to ensure we limit the amount of debris that is created; how do we minimize the effects of all that increased activity,” Aganaba-Jeanty said.

Global Galatic Commons

There is no defined distinction between where air space ends and outer space begins, according to Aganaba-Jeanty. Today there are several areas considered global commons, such as the oceans, Antarctica, and space.

With Antarctica melting, the potential for more accessible natural resources and trade routes may set the arctic as a place for international conflicts. These conflicts may become a precursor for the future of common grounds in space, said Aganaba-Jeanty.

Scientists believe Asteroid 16 Psyche, located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, contains minerals worth $700 to $10,000 quadrillion. There are plans to send more advanced rovers to Mars, plant seeds on the moon, and extract resources from faraway asteroids, but Aganaba-Jeanty asks: “how is this science going to do to help the common man?” How can these findings be used to benefit humanity?

Steve Filmer, executive producer of “Catalyst"; Timiebi Aganaba-Jeanty, an ASU assistant professor

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