Sustainable space exploration and its relevance to the privatization of space ventures

Nikolaos Iliopoulos*, Miguel Esteban

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Although the majority of humanity's current space programs are currently limited to the operation of the international space station and the deployment of probes to analyze distant planets, visions for future space exploration have long-duration missions in sight (such as manned missions to Mars and asteroid mining). According to contemporary literature these missions have the potential to provide tangible and intangible benefits, but they are also subject to public criticism given that increased awareness for environmental protection and preservation has ignited debates surrounding the socio-environmental and financial sustainability of space exploration. In hindsight of past advancements in outer space exploration, the authors follow the assumption that the commercial development will flourish and will provide auxiliary opportunities to overcome existing challenges. However, it is clear that the germination of private investment in the field of space exploration is contingent on the existence of unequivocal international space laws that permit and stimulate pro-profit decision making. Following this line of thought, this paper will explore the divergent definitions of sustainability that exist in the rhetoric of space exploration and will additionally expound on the privatization of space exploration and its relevance to the controversial legal rationales of international space laws.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-92
Number of pages8
JournalActa Astronautica
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Feb


  • International space laws
  • Private property rights
  • Privatization of space
  • Space exploration
  • Sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Sustainable space exploration and its relevance to the privatization of space ventures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this