airspace and outer space was not a problem requiring priority attention. As recently as 1985, the UN (with the ICAO monitoring the progress) again unsuccessfully attempted to define outer space. The issue still remains on the agenda of the Legal Subcommittee of the UN Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. To date the UN has not defined outer space nor resolved the concomitant sovereignty issue. Given that the delimitation issue is inextricably tied to the sovereignty issue, as long as the Bogotá Declaration continues under discussion, the delimitation issue will remain a hot topic.
Project RAND: Supporting the Air Force Position
Sputniks I and II caused a change in the “discussion of the character of space law and affected the quantity but not the quality of legal writing”; the emphasis of space law discussions “shifted toward a more realistic approach.” Apparently Leon Lipson, when making this statement, was not aware of the ongoing discussions being held at the ACC and within the National Security Council (NSC). Contrary to Lipson’s October 1959 assertion, US policy making at the ACC and NSC with respect to outer space law was indeed realistic during the 1950s.
Due in part to Sputnik and the growing pressure on the ICAO to address the issue of outer space law, the Air Force recognized that it needed an in-depth analysis of these issues. The Air Force understood the need for this study even though it had been instrumental in successfully delaying the ICAO’s consideration of a convention on outer space law. In 1957, at the request of the Air Staff, Project RAND published preliminary findings and recommendations in an interim report entitled “Some Implications for US National Security of Activities in Outer Space.” The premise of the RAND study was that the US “would soon have to take a position publicly on questions of sovereignty and associated legal rights and privileges in regard to the use of outer space by nations.” The conclusion and recommendations of Project RAND were
Considerations of international law as such ought not now to occupy a major place in the determination of US policies affecting activities by nations in outer space. Existing legal rules do not necessarily require or forbid any specific activities of the type that we are likely to contemplate in outer space; the law of outer space has still to be evolved; the United States should
- Leon Lipson, discussion leader, Chapter III, “Some Problems of the Near Future and Possible Approaches,” 5 May 1960, 79, quoted in Joseph M. Goldsen, “International Political Implications of Activities in Outer Space: A Report of a Conference, October 22-23, 1959,” R-0362-RC, Santa Monica, Calif., RAND.