Tourism is the future of spaceflight, experts say

Alumnae discuss what the commercialization of the space industry means for the private and public sectors.  

NASA lawyers Rebecca Bresnik ’08 LL.M. and Rebekah Reed ’12 discuss the role of the public sector in the new era of space flight.

NASA lawyers Rebecca Bresnik ’08 LL.M. and Rebekah Reed ’12 discuss the role of the public sector in the new era of space flight.

Complex commercial litigator Guigi Carminati ’08 examines during international space law in private enterprise.

Complex commercial litigator Guigi Carminati ’08 examines during international space law in private enterprise.

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Oct. 11, 2012 – Three international space law experts discussed the commercialization of the space industry, during two lunch-hour gatherings earlier this week at the University of Houston Law Center, noting that suborbital space tourism will soon be a reality. Hosted by the International Law Society, the talks were part of International Space Week at the Law Center.

“Traditionally, most space operations have been conducted by government agencies,” said Guigi Carminati ’08 during her presentation on international space law in private enterprise. “With the retirement of the Space Shuttle, private companies are preparing to assume the role. It won't be long before these companies and others will be transporting people to suborbital space.”

An associate in the Litigation Department of Weil, Gotshal & Manges' Houston office, Carminati is the co-author of The Laws of Spaceflight: A Guidebook for New Space Lawyers. The guidebook helps attorneys quickly obtain a basic understanding of spaceflight, the space industry, and the legal issues that their clients confront.

“Space law is interesting from a policy perspective,” Carminati said. “Private companies are getting closer and closer to sending the first space tourist into orbit, and this raises many challenging questions. It’s an exciting time to pursue space law.”

Later in the week, NASA lawyers Rebecca Bresnik08 LL.M. and Rebekah Reed ’12 discussed the role of the public sector in the new era of space flight. The United States currently does not have a vehicle to take people into space. Commercialization of the space industry is the answer, Bresnik said.

“We foresee the commercial industry eventually taking over low Earth orbit and developing a viable means for transportation of both people and cargo,” Reed said. “Once commercial companies can successfully send a person into low Earth orbit, the United States can focus on exploration efforts. Breaking new barriers and exploring new frontiers means going places we have never been before.”

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