“The post-Cold War issues of the space conquest: Thoughts on the future of an increasingly attractive space”
Space has fascinated humans for centuries. However, a new era has begun sixty years ago when the first engine was launched into outer space, the Russian satellite Sputnik. This event participated to trigger a space race between the two leading countries of the time, opposed in the Cold War, the United-States and the USSR. It had direct consequences on international relations at the time and was also at the origin of significant scientific improvements in the space field. This paper aims to analyze how space activities have developed and changed after the end of the Cold War. While competition dominated space and its few governmental actors until the end of the 1980’s, a new model of international cooperation has appeared subsequently and continues to govern most of space activities today. The variety of actors operating in the space field has also considerably increased. On the one hand, developing countries have tried more and more to play a significant role, using space as a means to exist on the international stage. On the other hand, the role of the private sector has also risen a lot. These new actors may constitute a threat for the global cooperation that has been set up after the Cold War, as well as for the future of space. Over the years, an international and national regulation has developed to frame and control space activities, with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs as a leading actor. Today, space law seems to suffer legal gaps that need to be addressed to ensure the safety of all. In addition, new challenges have arisen with the increasing number of space actors, such as space debris or space tourism. In order to anticipate potential irreversible damages in outer space, as has happened on Earth, it is now crucial to take seriously these legal needs.