Peaceful Purposes? Governing the Military Uses of Outer Space

18 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2017  

Steven Freeland

Western Sydney University, School of Law

Date Written: March 2015


The development of satellite technology to enhance the exploration and use of outer space has continued at a rapid rate ever since the space age began in 1957. Satellites play a vital part of many aspects of daily life, and also with respect to the conduct of armed conflict. Most military leaders regard space-related technology as an integral element of their strategic battle platform. This reflects the changing technological nature of armed conflict, which challenges many aspects of international law, including the regulation of warfare. This is particularly the case with respect to the use of satellite technology. Moreover, the continuing development of this technology challenges the core of the ‘peaceful purposes’ doctrine that underpins the international regulation of outer space. This article discusses the application of the United Nations Space Treaties and the laws of war to the use of outer space during armed conflict and offers some reflections as to what is required to properly address the issue.

Keywords: space law, armed conflict, peaceful purposes, space warfare

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Freeland, Steven, Peaceful Purposes? Governing the Military Uses of Outer Space (March 2015). European Journal of Law Reform 2016 (18) 1 ; Western Sydney University School of Law Research Paper No. 03/2017. Available at SSRN:

Steven Freeland (Contact Author)

Western Sydney University, School of Law ( email )

Locked Bag 1797
Penrith, NSW 2751

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