20 Mar

Looking at the literature it appears that the field of ethics and ethical considerations in space has been dealt with extensively by international bodies (UN1,2, EU3, COSPAR4), all of which are assisted by academic institutions and countries. Important results are the early treaty (19675) 'Peaceful Use of Outer Space' and it's sub topic, the proposal against 'placement of nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in outer space5 and the efforts towards prevention of an 'arms race' in outer space6,7 as well as Planetary Protection Policy8. Except general declarations 'Out space for all' and 'Peaceful Use of Outer Space', the relevant leading countries (Canada, China, India, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom and USA) did not publish ethical code for space (see Japan's Philosophy9) but they involved in UN, EU and COSPAR documents. There are also private economic entities (tourism companies, space industry, etc.10) that published more 'Code of professional responsibility' than a specific ethical code for space, as well as citizens, who have created forums, associations, activities and the establishment of websites (they discuss the importance and need for ethical code for space activities11).


There are many discussions (for example: Icarus' second chance12), reports (see UN Report on “The Ethics of Space Policy” 2000, with 256 pages but no decisions13), recommendations (see resolution/recommendation for debris14), decisions and even a practical EU document with 111 paragraphs to sign11, but amongst all of these, it was not possible to find a single document, which is a comprehensive and binding ethical code for human activity in space. All that is available are partial answers, which seem to serve the needs in the interim. Of course, the emphasis is on those who can force implementation of the code of ethics in space, which are subject to laws (i.e. the UN, EU and individual Countries).

Despite extensive research I have not found a single document which is a comprehensive and binding ethical code for human activity in space. Therefore, I am suggesting 'six assumptions and the eight ethical disciplines 'of the decisions to be discussed, which should be shared with the majority of the world's population to create a main document to be presented to legislators, international bodies, countries and the public15.


1. United Nations treaties and principles on outer space. 2008. United Nations, New York,
      ST/SPACE/11/Rev.2, 84pp.

2. UNOOSA. 2018. Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS).

3. EU proposal for an international Space Code of Conduct, Draft. 2014. International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities.

4. COSPAR. 2017. COSPAR's Planetary Protection Policy.

5. UNOOSA. 1966. Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies.

6. UNODA. 2018. Outer Space (1957-2018). 

7. United Nations 2015. Resolytion 70/53.Transparancy and confidence-building measures in outer space ctiviyirs.

8. COSPAR Panel. 2017. Current COSPAR Planetary Protection Policy for Icy Moons and Outer
       Solar System Bodies.

9. JAXA. 2003. JAXA Philosophy / Code of Conduct.

10. Wikipedia. 2020. List of private spaceflight companies.

11. BMSIS. 2016. Ethics of Space Colonization.

12. Jacques, A. 2011. Icarus' second chance: the basis and perspectives of space ethics. 
       Springer Wien,  New York.

13. UNESDOC. 2000. Report on “The Ethics of Space Policy”.

14. UNOOSA. 2007. Resolution 62/217: Space debris mitigation guidelines of the United Nations committee on the peaceful uses of outer space.

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