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Outer space is not the 'Wild West': There are clear rules for peace and war

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The release of the first images taken by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will inspire generations with the infinite possibilities that outer space holds. Clearly, we have a responsibility to ensure that only peaceful, safe, sustainable, lawful and legitimate uses of space are undertaken for the benefit of humanity and future generations.
August 18, 2022

The release of the first images taken by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will inspire generations with the infinite possibilities that outer space holds. Clearly, we have a responsibility to ensure that only peaceful, safe, sustainable, lawful and legitimate uses of space are undertaken for the benefit of humanity and future generations.

In pursuit of this, over the past six years McGill University and a host of collaborating institutions around the world have been involved in the drafting of the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space.
In August, the first volume of the McGill Manual was published. It contains the 52 Rules, adopted by consensus by the group of experts. The rules clarify the international law applicable to all space activities conducted during peacetime and in times of tension that pose challenges to peace.
Growth of space infrastructure
Since the beginning of the Space Age 65 years ago, we have witnessed tremendous strides in space exploration that have benefited life on Earth. Research into space technologies inform many of our modern conveniences. We bring back and study mineral samples from asteroids.
For decades, we have used satellite technologies for positioning, navigation and timing. The United States’ global positioning system—of which there are Chinese, European, Russian, Japanese and Indian variants—is the backbone for essential applications such as emergency search and rescue, precision farming for food production, air traffic navigation, the security of the financial and banking system, and the synchronization of time across cyber networks.
Our increasing reliance on space infrastructure makes modern economies increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of accidents, as well as unlawful and irresponsible acts affecting the exploration and use of space.
Space on Earth
In 2009, there was a communications blackout over North America after an accidental collision between a defunct Soviet satellite and Iridium communications satellite.

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