Ever wondered who rules the vast expanse of air and space extending for thousands of miles above the stratosphere?
This question has intrigued the human race for quite from some time...
Some other important areas which could be seen as a by-product of such a question include drone use, sustainability of space activities, militarisation of outer space, accident liability etc.
Such questions seem to literally have a black hole answer… something that exists but not quite definable. This is what makes this field of law all the more interesting. The answers are all there, but you need to tread across unchartered territory (almost like no-man’s territory) to find the answers.
Six reasons why Air & Space Law could be the path of study that you choose to specialise in include:
1. Unique field
The unique scope of this field of law could be the much-needed drive you have been waiting for. Air & Space law is not offered at many universities, and the ones that do offer this course make sure that the best faculty is engaged and at the student’s disposal. Some universities that offer it include – Leiden University, McGill University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Nebraska-Lincoln was one of the first universities in the United States to offer this course, and enrols only 8-10 students a year with some of them winning NASA scholarships.
2. Opens gateways
Air & Space Law opens gateways – in terms of career – and although this choice of law seems quite specific, it is not necessarily restrictive. The career paths most chosen by those studying this field include working in internationally operating law firms, civil aviation, telecommunications organisations and governmental organisations.
3. Heaven & Earth
This course is not just what happens in space, it also grapples with legal conundrums here on Earth. Not everything pertains to the outside space, students on this course will also deal with things such as technological advancements in quickly-evolving fields like remote sensing and telecommunications.
4. Final frontier
Space colonisation could actually be the real deal! Space law covers some more “far out” legal questions, such as the legality of mining projects on the moon or asteroids, or sending people on one-way missions to colonise Mars. This could soon be a reality and if you want to be at the cutting edge of the future you need to strike the iron while it is hot.
5. Internship opportunities
Air & Space Law garners some of the most number of internships and scholarships, such as the NASA internships offered to the students of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. One of the reasons for this is that students are less, which makes it easy to distribute internships or fellowships. Hands-on experience makes this an even more engaging field and most of the universities that offer it have a compulsory 6-8 month internship as part of the course. This really engages the students and helps them truly understand the depth of this field.
6. Dynamic nature
This is one aspect of law that definitely has ever-changing proportions. The continuous changes, new developments in both, technology and law are enough to keep a student/intern on their feet, both physically and mentally. Air & Space Law is one of those fields that has not been completely explored, and there is restrictive ‘space’ in terms of seats available, which means that getting accepted on the program in the first place shows you have the grit required to do this course.
Why is the field of space law booming?
As more nations and private companies compete to make their mark in space technology, the field of space law is silently booming. Space exploration is growing at a high pace, with more than three countries having sent missions to Mars, Artemis program by NASA preparing for astroboots on the moon, and Elon Musk's SpaceX prepping to colonise Mars.
Space business is booming
Space business is an enormous sector, given that a plethora of security companies such as electric grids and banks largely depend on space. These companies require experts to guide them on crucial issues such as drafting contracts and satellite licensing. Also, with the evolution of technology, public and private firms require legal experts to formulate new laws as well as update the old ones.
Major players in space exploration
Space exploration is no longer the sole responsibility for government agencies. Private entities have entered the race, and are propelling the industry more vigorously than if it was left to government agencies alone. The top three companies that have taken space exploration to the next level are SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic. What these companies have in common is that their goals are to decrease the costs required to access space, and making space reachable to people that are not astronauts.
Elon Musk's SpaceX – SpaceX was founded by Elon Musk in 2002 with an aim of revolutionising space technology, and enabling humans to live on other planets. The company has specialised in designing, manufacturing and launching rockets. It was the first company to dock their spacecraft at the International Space Station (ISS) in 2012.
Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin – Jeff Bezos, the entrepreneur behind Amazon, aims to send humans to space. His objective is to target the space tourism sector. The company has created New Shepard, a vertical launch vehicle that goes to space and back. Blue Origin faces stiff competition from Virgin Galactic.
Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic – Virgin Galactic claims to be the first commercial spaceline in the world. It is different from the other two in that it launches from a jet airplane, and not from the ground. It plans to ferry up to six passengers to space into sub-orbital space and back.
Where to study an LLM in Space Law
Space law is a fascinating field of study, and with the recent expansion of space exploration and technology, the need for students that have a background in space law is growing tremendously. Some of the institutions that provide space law courses include:
- University of Luxembourg – Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance (Luxembourg)
- Leiden University – Leiden Law School (Netherlands)
- University of Mississippi - School of Law (USA)
Modules studied on an LLM in Space Law
Space law is a wide and critical area, some of the modules that would be studied in an LLM in Space Law include:
- Space, cyber and telecoms on a global context
- Comparative criminal justice
- Artificial intelligence and robotics laws
- Intellectual property
- Air and space law
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