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New Ethics of Human Activity in Outer Space

Why is it in the news?

  • Recently, many experts emphasized the importance of India’s role in promoting ethical practices in outer space exploration and preventing outer space hegemonies.

More about the news

  • There has been a historical race to explore and claim territories in challenging environments, such as the race to the South Pole by Robert Scott and Roald Amundsen.
  • Multiple countries have made territorial claims in Antarctica, even though there are no native residents or resource exploitation.
    • The Antarctic Treaty of 1959, with 54 parties, ensures freedom of scientific research and peaceful use of Antarctica while prohibiting nuclear testing, military operations, economic exploitation, and further territorial claims.
  • There are parallels between the race for outer space exploration and the historical territorial races, emphasizing the need to prevent an arms race in outer space.
  • The Moon Agreement, adopted by the UN in 1979, promotes peaceful and responsible lunar exploration, with provisions for informed location and purpose of lunar stations and equitable resource exploitation when feasible.
  • India, as a pioneer in lunar exploration, should set a responsible precedent for future lunar activities, emphasizing collaboration, scientific cooperation, and non-militarization of outer space.
    • There is a need for the alignment of existing space treaties with a moral compass to ensure the responsible use of outer space and the preservation of the common heritage of humankind.
Antarctic Treaty
  • The Antarctic Treaty was signed between 12 countries in Washington on 1stDecember 1959 for making the Antarctic Continent a demilitarized zone to be preserved for scientific research only.
  • The twelve original signatories are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the UK and the US.
  • It entered into force in 1961 and has since been acceded by many other nations.
  • Antarctica is defined as all of the land and ice shelves south of 60°S latitude.
  • India became a member of this treaty in 1983.
Moon Agreement of 1979
  • The Moon Agreement of 1979 is directed towards the use of the Moon and other celestial bodies.
  • It limits the scope of exploitation of resources from these celestial bodies.
  • It establishes that the moon and other celestial bodies are ‘the province of all mankind’.
  • It declares that these regions of space must only be for peaceful purposes, with no state allowed to establish military bases or place weapons on celestial bodies.
  • Signatory – Despite being instrumental in the drafting of the Moon Agreement, the United States did not ratify it.
  • India is a signatory to the Moon Agreement, but is yet to ratify it.

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