Apply To Participate In The Space Governance Innovation Contest

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The Space Governance Innovation Contest is organized in partnership with Arizona State University’s Interplanetary Initiative Space Advisory ProjectSpace in Africa, the Lagos Court of Arbitration and the Outer Space Institute. For this contest, interdisciplinary teams of innovators will compete to address policy gaps in international space law. The sections below contain information about the background and requirements of the contest, criteria of assessment, and information on registration and submission portals. The submissions will be judged by an international panel of experts.

Prizes include cash prizes, international and virtual internships, publication opportunities and other rewards.

Contest Questions

Using international law, is it possible to bridge the policy gaps in the Outer Space Treaty (OST) to promote a sustainable and equitable new space economy? If so, what new instruments are required or how can existing instruments be optimized to address the new challenges raised by the new space economy? How can we responsibly innovate the future of space governance?

Example of an important policy gap:

Current missions focused on the basic science of metallic asteroids could spur the way for follow-on missions intent on capitalizing the market potential of the metals found. What social issues arise if a private actor or consortium of actors find celestial bodies abundant with precious resources? Who do these resources belong to? Should they be shared, and if so how? Is there a market for them and what would one look like? Is it even possible to exploit and sustainably profit from outer space resources in the absence of codified property rights regimes for space resources on the one hand or an international benefit sharing regime?

Questions raised by the Outer Space Institute (OSI) regarding this policy gap:

  • How does one balance the rights of the international community against the economic interests of corporations and individual countries, especially in the context of Article II of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which prohibits the ‘national appropriation’ of the Moon and other celestial bodies?
  • How does one engage in the ‘sustainable development’ of space to preserve the scientific and aesthetic value of celestial bodies such as asteroids, as well as any prebiotic materials and pristine mineralogy that may be present there?
  • How does one engage in asteroid mining without creating risks to Earth and its satellites by altering the meteoroid environment or by non-trivially changing asteroid trajectories?
  • What legal framework should be internationally developed to resolve disputes between nation-states and private commercial interests?
  • What low Earth orbit and geo-orbital slots are needed to accommodate increased space use while minimizing risk to Earth’s growing satellite population, and can these be regulated more effectively than the current International Telecommunications Union regime?

You may focus on these identified policy gaps, or another that you think is pressing and important – there is no penalty or preference, so long as it addresses the primary question.

Contest Requirements

This contest requires participants to design an international policy and an instrument that would achieve the following:

  • Establish what would be the common benefit for countries and private actors to pursue an in-space or space-oriented economy and its governing principles.
  • Define investment (monetary and non-monetary) needed for your proposed tool or model.
  • Examine the ways in which the stated investments needed can be organized or encouraged among existing systems. What stakeholders would be involved? What cooperation is needed to make your tool work?
  • Determine specific provisions that would address the policy gap that you have chosen.
  • Prepare the argumentation in support of policy position and provision.

Contestants should note the following:

  • Proposals can model any type of international law instruments and regimes, particularly where there are defined targets and goals which require some kind of investment that could be applicable in the context of a proposed space economy.
  • Ideas for a framework that incentivizes and protects investments, as well as facilitates a shared collaborative sense of a public good, are encouraged.

Contest Timeline

Stage 1: Commencement of Registration of Intent (11 November 2019)
Stage 2: Close of Registration of Intent (13 December 2019)
Stage 3: Commencement of Submissions/Entries (14 December 2019)
Stage 4: Submissions/Entries Deadline (14 February 2020)
Stage 5: Announcement of Results at the Outer Space Institute’s International Research Roundtable on Sustainable Development of Space, UBC, Vancouver, Canada (early March 2020)
Contest Rules and Guidelines 
  • This contest is open to African students currently pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree at any recognized institution of higher learning across the world and Alumni of the African Regional rounds of the IISL Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Competition.
  • Interested participants should register an intent to participate in the contest by 13 December 2019.
  • Entries for this contest are submitted on a group/team basis. Individual submissions are not allowed. Not more than one entry can be submitted per team.
  • Each team may not exceed more than 4 people. Interdisciplinary teams with at least one lawyer, law student, or someone within legal studies are strongly encouraged.
  • Entries for this contest must be submitted no later than 12:00am GMT, on the 14 February 2020
  • Entries must be submitted in the English Language.

Submission Guideline

Interested participants should register an intent to participate in the contest by 13 December 2019 by filling out the contest entry form. At the close of the deadline for the registration of interest, your team will be invited to submit the following:

  • Introduction of the Team (<1 page)
  • The Model Instrument
  • Argumentation Essay (maximum 20 pages, double-spaced)

In the Argumentation Essay you must introduce:

  1. The policy gap you are addressing and why it’s important.
  2. The argumentation for your model instrument (Why would it be effective? What makes you believe your instrument is fit to address the gap?)
  3. How do ideas of responsible innovation play into thinking about governance innovation?

Click here to get further information and contest guidelines