Treaties, Models, and Legislation

The development of the International Lunar Research Park requires agreements and protections that provide the legal framework enabling a wide range of activities by a wide range of international partners consistent with international law. Some insights may be gained from the following existing instruments for international collaboration. (Special thanks to Howard Hawkins, Cadwalader for input)

"Pursue human and robotic initiatives to develop innovative technologies, foster new industries, strengthen international partnerships, inspire our Nation and the world, increase humanity’s understanding of the Earth, enhance scientific discovery, and explore our solar system and the universe beyond."
  National Space Policy 2010


(The National Space Policy may be downloaded in its entirety at the bottom of the page)

"Pursue human and robotic initiatives to develop innovative technologies, foster new industries, strengthen international partnerships, inspire our Nation and the world, increase humanity’s understanding of the Earth, enhance scientific discovery, and explore our solar system and the universe beyond."

  • It is the shared interest of all nations to act responsibly in space to help prevent mishaps, misperceptions, and mistrust. The United States considers the sustainability, stability, and free access to, and use of, space vital to its national interests. Space operations should be conducted in ways that emphasize openness and transparency to improve public awareness of the activities of government, and enable others to share in the benefits provided by the use of space.
  • A robust and competitive commercial space sector is vital to continued progress in space. The United States is committed to encouraging and facilitating the growth of a U.S. commercial space sector that supports U.S. needs, is globally competitive, and advances U.S. leadership in the generation of new markets and innovation-driven entrepreneurship.
  • All nations have the right to explore and use space for peaceful purposes, and for the benefit of all humanity, in accordance with international law. Consistent with this principle, “peaceful purposes” allows for space to be used for national and homeland security activities.
  • As established in international law, there shall be no national claims of sovereignty over outer space or any celestial bodies. The United States considers the space systems of all nations to have the rights of passage through, and conduct of operations in, space without interference. Purposeful interference with space systems, including supporting infrastructure, will be considered an infringement of a nation’s rights.
  • The United States will employ a variety of measures to help assure the use of space for all responsible parties, and, consistent with the inherent right of self-defense, deter others from interference and attack, defend our space systems and contribute to the defense of allied space systems, and, if deterrence fails, defeat efforts to attack them.


• Space Act. 

The Space Act of 1958 as Amended is the primary document governing the roles and responsibilities of NASA. (Pub. L. No. 85-568 72 Stat. 426 (Jul. 29, 1958) As Amended)

•  Current Legislation NASA Authorization Act of 2010 (PL 111-267)

The following excerpts from the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 (PL 111-267) provide the enabling language for development of an International Lunar Research Park. It can be downloaded in its entirety from the attachment below.

Benefit Humanity

“It is essential to tie space activity to human challenges ranging from enhancing the influence, relationships, security, economic development, and commerce of the United States to improving the overall human condition.”

(Excerpts from PL 111-267 Sec. 2(5))

Human Space Flight, Exploration, International

“The long term goal of the human space flight and exploration efforts of NASA shall be to expand permanent human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and to do so, where practical, in a manner involving international partners.”

(Excerpts from PL 111-267 Sec. 202(a))

Commercial and International

“It is critical to identify an appropriate combination of NASA and related United States Government programs, while providing a framework that allows partnering, leveraging and stimulation of the existing and emerging commercial and international efforts in both Earth space and the regions beyond.”

(Excerpts from PL 111-267 Sec. 2(11))

Launch Vehicles to LEO and Beyond

“The United States must develop, as rapidly as possible, replacement vehicles capable of providing both human and cargo launch capability to low-Earth orbit and to destinations beyond low-Earth orbit.”

(Excerpts from PL 111-267 Sec. 2(14))

Extend Humanity Beyond LEO

“To determine if humans can live in an extended manner in space with decreasing reliance on Earth, starting with utilization of low-Earth orbit infrastructure, to identify potential roles that space resources such as energy and materials may play, to meet national and global needs and challenges, such as potential cataclysmic threats, and to explore the viability of and lay the foundation for sustainable economic activities in space;”

(Excerpts from PL 111-267 Sec. 202(b))

The ISS, technology developments … and follow-on transportation systems … form the foundation of initial capabilities for missions beyond low-Earth orbit to a variety of lunar and Lagrangian orbital locations… These initial missions and related capabilities should be utilized to provide operational experience, technology development, and the placement and assured use of in-space infrastructure and in-space servicing of existing and future assets

(Excerpts from PL 111-267 Sec. 203(a))

Human Missions Beyond LEO, Applications, International

“The ability to support human missions in regions beyond low-Earth orbit and on the surface of the Moon can also drive developments in emerging areas of space infrastructure and technology.”

“Developments in space infrastructure and technology can stimulate and enable increased space applications, such as in-space servicing, propellant resupply and transfer, and in situ resource utilization, and open opportunities for additional users of space, whether national, commercial or international.”

“Future international missions beyond low-Earth orbit should be designed to incorporate capability development and availability, affordability, and international contributions.”

(Excerpts from PL 111-267 Sec. 301(a))

“It is the Policy of the United States that NASA develop a Space Launch System as a follow-on to the Space Shuttle that can access cis-lunar space and the regions of space beyond low-Earth orbit in order to enable the United States to participate in global efforts to access and develop this increasingly strategic region.”

(Excerpts from PL 111-267 Sec. 302(a))

Technology and Exploration International

“It is the sense of Congress that a balance is needed in human space flight between using and building upon existing capabilities and investing in and enabling new capabilities. Technology development provides the potential to develop an increased ability to operate and extend human presence in space, while at the same time enhance the nation’s economic development and aid in addressing challenges here on Earth.

Additionally, the establishment of in-space capabilities, use of space resources, and the ability to repair and reuse systems in space can contribute to the overall goals of extending human presence in space in an international manner…”

(Excerpts from PL 111-267 Sec. 307

Technology Development Authorized for Beyond LEO: Transit Vehicles, Fuel Depots, Flagship Missions

“ DEVELOPMENT AUTHORIZED.—The Administrator may initiate activities to develop the following:

(1) Technologies identified as necessary elements of missions beyond low-Earth orbit.

(2) In-space capabilities such as refueling and storage technology, orbital transfer stages, innovative in-space propulsion technology, communications, and data management that facilitate a broad range of users (including military and commercial) and applications defining the architecture and design of such missions.

(3) Spacesuit development and associated life support technology.

(4) Flagship missions.”

(Excerpts from PL 111-267 Sec. 308)

Technology Investments Authorized:  Propellant Depots, ISRU, Transfer Vehicles, Robotic Payloads beyond LEO

“…the Administrator may make investments—

(1) in space technologies such as advanced propulsion, propellant depots, in situ resource utilization, and robotic payloads or capabilities that enable human missions beyond low-Earth orbit ultimately leading to Mars;

(2) in a space-based transfer vehicle including these technologies with an ability to conduct space-based operations that provide capabilities—

(C) to facilitate international efforts to expand human presence to deep space destinations…”

(Excerpts from PL 111-267 Sec. 308)

Expansion of Human Space Flight Beyond the International Space Station and Low-Earth Orbit

“The extension of the human presence from low-Earth orbit to other regions of space beyond low-Earth orbit will enable missions to the surface of the Moon and missions to deep space destinations such as near-Earth asteroids and Mars.

(Excerpts from PL 111-267 Sec. 203(a))

“Human space flight and future exploration beyond low-Earth orbit should be based around a pay-as-you-go approach ... Requirements in new launch and crew systems … should be scaled to the minimum necessary to meet the core national mission capability needed to conduct cis-lunar missions. These initial missions, along with the development of new technologies and in-space capabilities can form the foundation for missions to other destinations.”

(Excerpts from PL 111-267 Sec. 301(a))


2011 NASA Strategic Plan – Over Arching Strategies

The following overarching strategies govern the management and conduct of our aeronautics and space programs. 

These are standard practices that each organization within NASA employs in developing and executing their plans to achieve our strategic goals.

They also provide a framework that guides our support for other areas of national and Administration policy: government transparency; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education; energy and climate change; innovation; and increased citizen and partnership participation to help address the multitude of challenges faced by our Nation. The following overarching strategies help strengthen the Agency and support U.S. competitiveness on a global scale:

   Investing in next-generation technologies and approaches to spur innovation;

   Inspiring students to be our future scientists, engineers, explorers, and educators through interactions with NASA’s people, missions, research, and facilities;

   Expanding partnerships with international, intergovernmental, academic, industrial, and entrepreneurial communities and recognizing their role as important contributors of skill and creativity to our missions and for the propagation of our results;

   Committing to environmental stewardship through Earth observation and science, and the development and use of green technologies and capabilities in NASA missions and facilities; and

   Securing the public trust through transparency and accountability in our programmatic and financial management, procurement, and reporting practices.


2011 NASA Strategic Goals and Outcomes

Strategic Goal 1: Extend and sustain human activities across the solar system.

1.1 Sustain the operation and full use of the International Space Station (ISS) and expand efforts to utilize the ISS as a National Laboratory for scientific, technological, diplomatic, and educational purposes and for supporting future objectives in human space exploration.

1.2 Develop competitive opportunities for the commercial community to provide best value products and services to low Earth orbit and beyond.

1.3 Develop an integrated architecture and capabilities for safe crewed and cargo missions beyond low Earth orbit.

Strategic Goal 2: Expand scientific understanding of the Earth and the universe in which we live.

2.1 Advance Earth system science to meet the challenges of climate and environmental change.

2.2 Understand the Sun and its interactions with Earth and the solar system.

2.3 Ascertain the content, origin, and evolution of the solar system and the potential for life elsewhere.

2.4 Discover how the universe works, explore how it began and evolved, and search for Earth-like planets.

Strategic Goal 3: Create the innovative new space technologies for our exploration, science, and economic future.

3.1 Sponsor early-stage innovation in space technologies in order to improve the future capabilities of NASA, other government agencies, and the aerospace industry.

3.2 Infuse game-changing and crosscutting technologies throughout the Nation’s space enterprise to transform the Nation’s space mission capabilities.

3.3 Develop and demonstrate the critical technologies that will make NASA’s exploration, science, and discovery missions more affordable and more capable.

3.4 Facilitate the transfer of NASA technology and engage in partnerships with other government agencies, industry, and international entities to generate U.S. commercial activity and other public benefits.

Strategic Goal 5: Enable program and institutional capabilities to conduct NASA’s aeronautics and space activities.

5.1 Identify, cultivate, and sustain a diverse workforce and inclusive work environment that is needed to conduct NASA missions.

5.2 Ensure vital assets are ready, available, and appropriately sized to conduct NASA’s missions.

5.3 Ensure the availability to the Nation of NASA-owned, strategically important test capabilities.

5.4 Implement and provide space communications and launch capabilities responsive to existing and future science and space exploration missions.

5.5 Establish partnerships, including innovative arrangements, with commercial, international, and other government entities to maximize mission success.

Strategic Goal 6: Share NASA with the public, educators, and students to provide opportunities to participate in our Mission, foster innovation, and contribute to a strong national economy.

6.1 Improve retention of students in STEM disciplines by providing opportunities and activities along the full length of the education pipeline.

6.2 Promote STEM literacy through strategic partnerships with formal and informal organizations.

6.3 Engage the public in NASA’s missions by providing new pathways for participation.

6.4 Inform, engage, and inspire the public by sharing NASA’s missions, challenges, and results.


• Deep Seabed Hard Mineral Resources Act (30 USC Chapter 26)

The Deep Seabed Hard Mineral Resources Act may offer a model for commercial use of lunar resources.  

The Congress declares that the purposes of this chapter are  -

(1) to encourage the  successful conclusion of a  comprehensive Law of the Sea Treaty,  which will give legal definition to  the principle that the hard mineral  resources of the deep seabed are the  common heritage of mankind and which will assure, among  other things, nondiscriminatory access  to such resources for  all nations;

(2)  pending the ratification by, and entering into force  with respect to, the United States of  such a Treaty, to provide for the  establishment of an international revenue-sharing fund  the proceeds of which shall be used for  sharing with the international  community pursuant to such  Treaty;

(3) to establish,  pending the ratification by, and  entering into force with respect to,  the United States of such a Treaty, an  interim program to regulate the exploration for and  commercial recovery of hard mineral  resources of the deep seabed by  United States  citizens;

(4) to accelerate  the program of environmental assessment  of exploration for and commercial  recovery of hard mineral resources of  the deep seabed and assure that such exploration and  recovery activities are conducted in a  manner which will encourage  the conservation of such resources,  protect the quality of the environment,  and promote the safety of life and property at  sea; and

(5) to encourage the continued development of technology necessary to recover the hard mineral resources of the deep seabed.

The Outer Space Treaty provides the basic framework on international space law, including the following principles.
    • The exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries and shall be the province of all mankind;
    • outer space shall be free for exploration and use by all States;
    • outer space is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means;
    • States shall not place nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit or on celestial bodies or station them in outer space in any other manner;
    • the Moon and other celestial bodies shall be used exclusively for peaceful purposes;
    • astronauts shall be regarded as the envoys of mankind;
    • States shall be responsible for national space activities whether carried out by governmental or non-governmental activities;
    • States shall be liable for damage caused by their space objects; and
    • States shall avoid harmful contamination of space and celestial bodies.

(as a Model System) The 48 Antarctic Treaty nations represent about two-thirds of the world's human population. Downloadable at the bottom of the page.  See:  Antarctic Treaty System

The International Space Station (ISS) is the third brightest object in space when viewed with the naked eye from Earth.  Only the sun and the moon are brighter. The ISS weighs approximately 816,000 pounds and is about the size of a football field. The ISS is an existence proof that large structures can be developed and maintained beyond Earth collaboratively with other nations.  The legal enabler for the ISS construction was the Agreement Among The Government Of Canada, Governments Of The Member States Of The European Space Agency, The Government Of Japan, The Government Of The Russian Federation, And The Government Of The United States Of America Concerning Cooperation On The Civil International Space Station.

Other Models:  Authority Model. 

See JUSTSAP Presentation by Hugh Welsh Former Deputy General Counsel, Port Authorities of New York & New Jersey

Lynn Harper,
Mar 26, 2011, 10:17 AM
Lynn Harper,
Jun 1, 2011, 5:27 PM
Lynn Harper,
Jan 21, 2011, 10:52 AM
Lynn Harper,
Mar 24, 2011, 9:56 AM