Should Space Have a Separate Culture?

Recommendations for Ethics in Outer Space (submitted to the Human Space Program on August 21, 2021)

Drawing from my academic background at Harvard University in International Relations, Legal Studies, and Astronomy—specifically Space Diplomacy and Space Law and Policy, I submit the following recommendations for Space Ethics at the dawn of Space Exploration.

Given that all nations will be forced to share Space as they do Earth, and that Space Exploration is conducted in an environment lethal to humans, for the survival of all humankind in outer space we must work together in harmony and set up systems that foster this strong stance. Equality, regardless of origin, gender, and economic status, must be the cornerstone for future Space ethics, and Space must be a separate place that has a separate culture.

Current Space treaties and agreements, whether international—Outer Space Treaty, Registration and Liability Convention, Rescue Agreement—or multilateral—NASA Artemis Accords, ISS Memorandums—engender interdependency and cooperation without prejudice to country of origin. All Space agents must be transparent, help each other in emergencies, not interfere with foreign projects, and have due regard for fellow humans. These agreements set the tone for ethics that parallel the best intentions for humankind in 2021.

On an individual level, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights sets the standard for fair treatment of all. By honoring that every human is born with the right to live a free life in pursuit of happiness, and should not be prevented access to education, good health, and family if she/he/they so choose, the barriers of discrimination, elitism, and predatory capitalism must be confined to Earth and not enter the Space realm.

My suggestion is that we create a new world culture in Space, leaving behind the old ways and requiring that all Space visitors and residents lay down their temperament for division. Space will be a different region with different customs, and it is our job to ensure the systems we put in place uphold this sentiment, protecting it into the generations.

Rebecca From Reno
Rebecca Schembri is a Social Science graduate student at Harvard University. Her concentration is in Space Diplomacy. She is from Reno, Nevada, USA

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