Space Law and Policy

Who Owns the Vast Riches of Space?

Space Law and Policy Location


Session Date and Time
Thursday, May 23 @ 10 am - 12 noon & 2 pm - 6 pm

Who owns the vast riches of space? We know that there are great deposits of materials of great value on the Moon, in asteroids, and scattered throughout the solar system. The spacefaring powers of Earth will seek them out to support our expansion throughout cislunar space and beyond. But to avoid the resource-related conflicts that have plagued us on Earth for centuries, new legal regimes much evolve to supplement and, in some cases, replace existing legal structures. We are seeing some of the first attempts at formal policy with the Artemis Accords, but these are not yet universally accepted and only begin to cover the many needs of a truly spacefaring species. Join some of the top legal scholars in space law as we strive to see the future of policy in the domain of space.

Space Law and Policy  Session Chair Info

Executive Director, Center for Air and Space Law, University of Mississippi

Michelle Hanlon is the Executive Director of the Center for Air and Space Law and a Professor of Practice within the Air and Space Law program at the University of Mississippi School of Law. She is recognized as a leading figure in space law, holding the position of Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Space Law, the world’s oldest law journal dedicated to legal issues related to human activities in outer space. Additionally, Michelle serves as the Faculty Advisor for the Journal of Drone Law and Policy.

As a co-founder and a key figure in For All Moonkind, Inc., Michelle continues her commitment to preserving human cultural heritage in outer space. This nonprofit organization, unique in its focus, has gained recognition by the United Nations as a Permanent Observer to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

Michelle’s contributions to space activism were honored in 2023 when she received the Chris Pancratz Space Activist of the Year Award from the National Space Society.

Her academic credentials include a B.A. in Political Science from Yale College, a J.D. magna cum laude from the Georgetown University Law Center, and an LL.M. in Air and Space Law from McGill University. Before her focus on aviation and space law, Michelle had a diverse legal career, beginning with restructuring sovereign debt in South and Latin American countries and evolving into cross-border technology mergers and acquisitions. Her solo practice covered a wide range of consulting services for entrepreneurs globally, encompassing corporate formation, financings, and buyouts. Currently, she continues to provide expert advice and counsel in all aspects of air, space, and cyber law through ABH Aerospace, LLC, a consulting firm.

Space Law and Policy Presentation Speakers

Presentation Title: The View from Central America

Jessy Maria Aguilar is a Honduran lawyer with over 10 years of experience specializing in Aviation Law. Jessy brings a deep understanding of the legal complexities faced by international airlines. Throughout her career, she has counseled American, Latin American, and European airlines on various issues, including regulatory compliance, corporate matters, aircraft financing transactions, mergers and acquisitions, and litigation management. Her experience extends to directing complex litigation for antitrust and consumer protection agencies in Honduras. Currently a candidate for the LLM in Air and Space Law at the University of Mississippi, Jessy is eager to share insights and engage in discussions about the legal frontiers of our ever-evolving world.

Executive Director of the Navajo Nation Washington Office
Presentation Title: Indigenous Perspectives on Space Exploration

Justin Ahasteen carries a legacy that is as diverse as it is profound, hailing from a rich tapestry of cultural backgrounds. Born Bilagáana (white) for Tótsohnii (Big Water), he is also descended from Kiisʼáanii (Hopi) through his paternal lineage, while his maternal roots are also Bilagáana. Growing up in White Cone, Arizona, Justin’s life has been a journey of bridging worlds, embodying the resilience and spirit of his ancestors. He is a beacon of his community and a testament to the enduring strength of his heritage, proudly holding his educational beginnings from Holbrook High School close to his heart. Justin’s journey led him to the Navajo Nation Washington Office in 2021, where he assumed a pivotal role in shaping the future of the Navajo Nation’s Infrastructure, Veteran Affairs, Social Services, Health, and Public Safety initiatives. His promotion to Executive Director by President Buu Nygren in January 2023 was a testament to his exceptional leadership and his relentless pursuit of advocacy for his people. As Executive Director, Justin’s influence on federal Indian policy has been nothing short of transformative. He operates at the nexus of government relations and Indigenous sovereignty, striving tirelessly to ensure the voices and perspectives of the Navajo Nation are heard at the highest levels of government. His strategic guidance and advocacy work have been instrumental in securing resources, shaping policy, and creating systemic changes that promote the well-being and resilience of the Navajo people.

Chief Executive Officer, Alyson Claire Law, Prof. Corp.
Presentation Title: What Does "Sustainability" Really Mean Within the Aerospace Industry?

Before founding Alyson Claire Law in 2021, Alyson Claire Decker’s legal practice had taken her from an international law firm to several renowned boutique law firms, to being Vice President of Legal Affairs for a group of companies with an annual revenue of over 100 million dollars. But Ms. Decker has always had a passion for law and for space and is now actively traversing this final frontier of the law. Ms. Decker has been published numerous times and presented at several international space conferences and conventions on various legal space issues including jurisdiction, employment relationships, and space governance systems.

Managing Director & Secretary, The EarthLight Foundation
Presentation Title: NewSpace Odyssey: Reimagining the Space Settlement Act Beyond NASA

Leah Cheli Doolittle is a Florida corporate attorney and an Air & Space Law student at the University of Mississippi School of Law. Compelled by the exponential development of “NewSpace” and a desire to be a part of it, she took the bar to become a licensed attorney in 2021 to leverage her corporate and legal expertise to influence the development of space law, policy, and culture. Leah joined the EarthLight Foundation in 2022 and works with the EarthLight core team to foster Space Culture.

University Student, University of Mississippi School of Law
Presentation Title: Adaptive Governance, Safety Certificates, and the Future of Lunar Exploration

Caleb is a 3rd-year law student at the University of Mississippi pursuing a J.D. concentration in Air & Space Law. He has written an article about orbit spectrum allocation that will be published in the Journal of Space Law in the summer of 2024, and has co-authored another article about extending intellectual property rights into outer space which will be published later this year.

United States Foreign Service Officer (U.S. Diplomat), United States Department of State
Presentation Title: Protecting the Cosmos: The Need to Define Celestial Bodies in the Outer Space Treaty

David A. Epstein was born in White Plains, New York. At 16, he began his higher education studies at Simon’s Rock College of Bard in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. David transferred to American University in his junior year and received a bachelor’s degree via an interdisciplinary program drawing together studies of Communication, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government. After graduating, David became certified as a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and taught in California, New York, and Buenos Aires, Argentina. David graduated from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York, New York in 2004. After a few years in the public and private sectors, David joined the United States Foreign Service. David has served in San Salvador, El Salvador; Jerusalem, Israel; Washington, D.C.; Kabul, Afghanistan; Sofia, Bulgaria; and is currently working at the U.S. Mission to NATO in Brussels, Belgium. Additionally, David served for two years as a visiting professor at the United States Air Force Academy. He is currently preparing for his next assignment in Vienna, Austria. He is the recipient of multiple State Department Meritorious and Superior Honor Awards. The views presented are his own and provided in a personal capacity that does not reflect official U.S. government policy.

Program Manager, Center for Air and Space Law
Presentation Title: Teaching Space Law is a National Policy Imperative

Allison Lewis is the Program Manager of the Center for Air and Space Law, Executive Editor of the Journal of Space Law, and on the Board of For All Moonkind. She has a Master’s Degree in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a Master’s Degree in Communications from Boston University, and is currently working toward a Graduate Certificate in Air and Space Law at the University of Mississippi School of Law.

Government and Legislative Affairs Associate, The Navajo Nation
Presentation Title: Indigenous Perspectives on Lunar Governance

Michael Lewis’s journey from the suburbs of Northern Virginia to the corridors of power in Washington, D.C., and eventually to the diverse landscapes of Los Angeles, California, is a testament to his unwavering commitment to social justice and his deep understanding of complex policy issues. With a formidable foundation in economics and political science acquired during his undergraduate years, Michael’s intellectual pursuits have always been driven by a desire to affect meaningful change in the world. In 2021, Michael brought his considerable talents to the Navajo Nation Washington Office, stepping into the role of Government and Legislative Affairs Associate. In this capacity, he has been a driving force behind the push for progressive changes in federal Indian policy. Michael’s advocacy efforts are laser-focused on advancing the interests of the Navajo Nation and the broader tapestry of indigenous communities, ensuring that their voices are heard and their rights protected at the federal level. With a particular emphasis on land reform, Michael oversees a diverse range of policy areas, drawing upon his multifaceted expertise to navigate the complex interplay between sovereignty, resource management, and community development. His work is crucial in shaping policies that honor treaty obligations, promote sustainable development, and foster the return of ancestral lands.

Director, Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group / Cal Poly
Presentation Title: Space Bitskrieg: Why Orbital Conflicts Will Be More Like "Hackers", Not "Star Wars"

Patrick Lin, PhD, is the director of the Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group at Cal Poly, where he is a full philosophy professor. He currently serves on the US National Space Council’s Users Advisory Group and is affiliated with Stanford Law School, World Economic Forum, Aurelia Institute, AIAA, and other leading organizations. Previous affiliations include the US Naval Academy, Stanford Engineering, Dartmouth, UNIDIR, 100 Year Study on AI, and more. He is well published in technology ethics, including on frontier development (esp. outer space and the Arctic), AI, robotics, cybersecurity, bioengineering, defense technologies, materials science, and other emerging areas.

Assistant Professor of Business Law, California State University, Los Angeles
Presentation Title: On Who Should Pay When Orbital Debris 'Trickles-Down' in a Tragedy of the Low Earth Orbit Commons

Michael was an Associate Professor of Law & Social Responsibility at Loyola University Maryland for 13 years. He is now in his 3rd year as an Assistant Professor of Business Law at California State University, Los Angeles. His scholarship concerns cultivating U.S. & international space law, which is rooted in environmental sustainability principles for low Earth orbit, by publishing model commercial space law legislation.

Postdoctoral Associate at George Washington University
Presentation Title: The Three Goals of Taxation and Their Role in Outer Space

Erika is a postdoctoral associate in space policy at GWU. From 2020 to 2024, she served as a teaching associate in tax law and pursued her doctoral studies in international space taxation at WU Wien. She authors publications and delivers lectures on various topics, including international and European taxation, environmental policy, and space law, exploring the intersections of these fields.

Attorney, Simmons Legal PLLC
Presentation Title: Space Settlement and Commercialization: Clarifying Private Property Rights

Camisha L. Simmons is an attorney who represents parties in business transactions, restructurings, and litigation. She is a frequent writer and speaker on cutting edge legal topics that impact businesses.

Partner, Complex Litigation Group; LLM Candidate, Center for Air and Space Law, University of Mississippi
Presentation Title: Space Law: What Does Complexity Science Teach Us About Creating Effective Governance Frameworks?

M.C. Sungaila, partner at the Complex Appellate Litigation Group, is an award-winning appellate attorney who has litigated cutting edge cases before the highest courts. She is also an LLM candidate at the University of Mississippi’s Center for Air and Space Law, where she serves as Consulting Editor to the century-old Journal of Space Law and Coach to the school’s Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court team. Her article, Protecting Space Cultural Heritage: Lessons from the Holocaust Art Recovery Experience, which she was invited to present at the International Symposium on Cultural Heritage in War and Peace at the University of Bologna, is slated to be published in a forthcoming volume of the Journal of Space Law. She has studied Applied Complexity under both Joe Norman and Yaneer Bar-Yam of the New England Complex Systems Institute.

President and Co-Founder, Beyond Earth Institute
Presentation Title: Implementing the Beyond Earth Vision

Steven Wolfe is the President and Co-Founder of the Beyond Earth Institute, a non-profit think tank whose mission is to establish and sustain a policy and legal framework that enables economically vibrant communities beyond Earth. He is also the Deputy Executive Director for Global Spaceport Alliance, a trade organization that advocates on behalf of spaceport operators worldwide. Steve is a partner at CWSP International, a consulting firm serving clients’ needs in the space sector. Early in his career, Steve served for the late Congressman George E. Brown, Jr. in the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, DC. While on the Hill, Steve was the executive director of the Congressional Space Caucus and drafted the Space Settlement Act of 1988. Rep. Brown received the National Space Society Pioneer Award for this legislative achievement. The bill was signed into law as part of the NASA Authorization Act. He also serves on the Board of the Global Entrepreneurship Network for Space (GEN-Space) and the Board of Editors for the Journal of Space Philosophy. Steve is the author of The Obligation: A Journey to Discover Human Purpose on Earth and in the Cosmos.

Other Sessions at ISDC 2024

Preserving Aerospace Heritage
Infrastructure is the Backbone of Civilization
Space Ventures Stride Toward Lucrative Horizons
Newest and Most Exciting Ideas
Growing Life Beyond Earth: Innovating for Sustainable Space Habitats
...Some More Traveled Than Others
A Martian Renaissance is at Hand
How Will We Best Explore, Prospect, and Settle Our Natural Satellite?
Discuss Comprehensive Solutions Planetary Defense
Learn More About the History of Tomorrow
Educating and Enlightening People
Exciting Technology that will Revolutionize Access to Space
Global Collaboration for Outer Space
Medical Capabilities to Travel Into Deep Space
Who Owns the Vast Riches of Space?
Making Humanity a Space Faring Species
Core Interest of the NSS Since the 1970s
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