The beginning of the space age was seen by many as the inauguration of a new era with great potential for the betterment of mankind, as well as an opening for a vast new area for future military uses and conflict. The global public interest in outer space was recognized by the international community with the conclusion of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which had been negotiated through the United Nations' Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). The Treaty has been ratified or signed by 125 States. It is widely considered to be the constitution of outer space and the foundation of the international legal regime governing all outer space activities. Some of the Outer Space Treaty's provisions have been further elaborated in four separate agreements. In addition to a few other important law-making treaties, these collectively form the current international regime governing outer space and space activities.
The legal principles of current international space law, especially the Outer Space Treaty, recognize the inclusive interest of the international community ?" that is, the global public interest ?" in outer space by assuring all States the right of free access to outer space without discrimination of any kind. This paper analyses the current international legal regime regulating space activities and the contemporary challenges to the most fundamental principles of space law. It begins by examining the scope and nature of global public interest as primarily established under the Outer Space Treaty and as it applies to the exploration and use of outer space.