How Will We Govern Ourselves in Space?

A Future Tense event.

A person stands gazing up at a multicolored swirl of stars.

A new golden age of space exploration is upon us, with growing numbers of countries and private enterprises eager to establish themselves in space for the sake of scientific inquiry, national prestige, adventurous tourism, billionaires’ bragging rights, mineral riches, and even as a hedge against any future calamity that might devastate our home planet.

Our motivations for exploration may vary, but the spaceward rush raises questions about how we will govern ourselves beyond Earth. Cold War-era space treaties, vague notions of how legal frameworks on Earth might migrate to settlements in space, and cautionary tales from both history and science fiction offer some guidance, but we could benefit from a larger conversation about how we want to govern them.

On July 10 at 2 p.m., Join Future Tense and the JustSpace Alliance at the New America office in Washington to consider how we might ensure that our “next frontier” is one that reflects our most humane and democratic values. Stick around after the event to continue the conversation with a happy hour reception. If you can’t make it to Washington, there’s good news: The event will also be livestreamed.

You can find the agenda below. For more information and to RSVP, visit the New America website.

2-2:45 p.m.: What Could Be Unsettling About New Settlements?

Russell Short
Contributing writer, New York Times Magazine
Author of The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America

Bina Venkataraman
Director, Global Policy Initiatives at the Broad Institute of Harvard & MIT
Future Tense fellow
Author of the forthcoming book The Optimist’s Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age

Armstrong Wiggins
Washington, D.C., director, Indian Law Resource Center

Andrés Martinez
Editorial director, Future Tense

2:45-3:30 p.m.: Law & Order or Game of Thrones? The Legal Landscape of Space Exploration.

Amanda Nguyen
CEO and founder, Rise
Board chair, JustSpace Alliance

Henry Hertzfeld
Director, Space Policy Institute
Professor of space policy & international affairs, the George Washington University

Yuliya Panfil
Director, New America Future of Property Rights Program

Erika Nesvold
Astrophysicist & developer, Universe Sandbox
Co-founder, JustSpace Alliance

3:30-4:15 p.m.: What Do Community and the Social Landscape Look Like in Space?

Craig Calhoun
Professor of social sciences, Arizona State University
Former director and president of the London School of Economics and Political Science
Author of Nations Matter: Culture, History and the Cosmopolitan Dream

Fred Scharmen
Associate professor, Morgan State University’s School of Architecture and Planning
Author of Space Settlements

Alex MacDonald
Program executive for emerging space, NASA Office of the Chief Technologist

Lucianne Walkowicz
Astronomer, Adler Planetarium
Co-founder, JustSpace Alliance

4:15 p.m.: Reception

Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society.