Mankind’s dependence on space-based services has grown exponentially in the last few decades. As early as 1994, the UN noted that “space has become an important factor in the social and economic well-being and development of many States”. Today, a growing number of experts argue that sustaining modern life in an increasingly interconnected world will not be possible without ensuring the sustainable use of outer space. From instant communication and the use of global positioning systems, to weather forecasting and environmental monitoring, space technologies bring us irreplaceable and far-reaching benefits, which must be protected responsibly.
Yet with growing dependence comes increased vulnerability, a notion which is perfectly true for space matters, where any accidental interruption or deliberate severance of space-based services would cause immense financial losses and other disruptions. Indeed, a single day without access to space would have disastrous consequences worldwide. Approximately $1.5 trillion worth of financial market transactions per day would be stifled, throwing global markets into disarray. According to statistics provided by the International Air Transport Association, over 100,000 commercial flights crisscross the planet daily. Evidently such flights would be interrupted by communication disruptions, and deliveries of emergency health services would be severely hampered. Additionally, coordinating effective responses to crises would become nearly impossible. Due to the fundamentally transnational nature of almost all outer space activities, any conflict in outer space – even a limited one – would have disastrous consequences for the large amount of civilians globally who depend on the provision of outer space services