Chicago Journal of International Law


Although the idea remains exceedingly controversial, momentum is building in the US space program for an ever-increasing role of humans in space. This momentum is evident in the renewed emphasis on human exploration of the moon and Mars. It is also evident in the private sector's growing interest in space tourism. Even if the move to greater involvement of humans in space is gradual, space exploration and tourism are attracting the government and private funding necessary to underwrite initial steps in this direction. The largely overlooked public policy issue of managing human risk in space is an important aspect of these activities. Such risk may be borne by first parties-the actual space travelers themselves. It may also be borne by third parties, such as those positioned on the ground beneath the flight path of a space launch vehicle. Critics of manned flight often argue for robotic exploration, claiming that samples from Mars and other environments could instead be collected by unmanned probes and returned to Earth for study. Human risk, however, is not avoided. Biological contamination associated with the introduction of extraterrestrial materials to the Earth's environment remains an issue. [CONT]