Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso

Outer Space Treaty

  • Catharine A. ConleyEmail author
Living reference work entry

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_1132-3




The “Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies” represents the basic legal framework of international space law. It was proposed to the UN by the USSR and the USA in 1966 and ratified by those countries and, to date, over 106 others starting in 1967. The Outer Space Treaty (OST) sets up the general principles applicable to the exploration and use of outer space and applies to every activity of states in outer space, whether such activities are carried out by governmental or nongovernmental entities. The Article IX, second sentence, states: “State Parties shall pursue studies of outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, and conduct exploration of them so as to avoid their harmful contamination and also adverse changes in the environment of the Earth resulting from the introduction of extraterrestrial matter and, when necessary, adopt appropriate measures for this purpose.”

The COSPAR refers to this entry as the legal basis for the planetary protection policy on which all subsequent recommendations and guidelines are based.

See Also

References and Further Reading

  1. United Nations (1966) Treaty on principles governing the activities of states in the exploration and use of outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies (the “Outer Space Treaty”) referenced 610 UNTS 205 – resolution 2222(XXI) of Dec 1966Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NASA Ames Research CenterMoffett FieldUSA