How Will We Govern Ourselves in Space?


A new golden age of space exploration is upon us, with growing numbers of countries and private enterprises eager to establish themselves in space for the sake of scientific inquiry, national prestige, adventurous tourism, billionaires’ bragging rights, mineral riches, and even as a hedge against any future calamity that might devastate our home planet.

Our motivations for exploration may vary, but the spaceward rush raises questions about how we will govern ourselves beyond the bonds of Earth. Cold War-era space treaties, vague notions of how legal frameworks on Earth might migrate to settlements in space, and cautionary tales from both history and science fiction offer some guidance, but we could benefit from a larger conversation about how we want to govern them.

Join Future Tense and the JustSpace Alliance to consider how we might ensure that our “next frontier” is one that reflects our most humane and democratic values. Stick around after the event to continue the conversation with a happy hour reception.

Follow the conversation online using #SettlingSpace and following @FutureTenseNow.


2:00 - 2:45 PM: What Could be Unsettling about New Settlements?

Russell Shorto, @RussellShorto
Contributing writer, New York Times Magazine
Author of The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America

Bina Venkataraman, @binajv
Director, Global Policy Initiatives at the Broad Institute of Harvard & MIT
Future Tense Fellow
Author of the forthcoming book, The Optimist's Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age

Armstrong Wiggins
Washington, DC Director, Indian Law Resource Center

Andrés Martinez, @andresDCmtz
Editorial Director, Future Tense

2:45 - 3:30 PM: Law & Order, or Game of Thrones? The Legal Landscape of Space Exploration

Amanda Nguyen, @nguyen_amanda
CEO and founder, Rise
Board Member, JustSpace Alliance

Henry Hertzfeld
Director, Space Policy Institute
Professor of Space Policy & International Affairs, The George Washington University

Yuliya Panfil, @yneyman
Director, New America Future of Property Rights Program

Erika Nesvold, @erikanesvold
Astrophysicist & Developer, Universe Sandbox
Co-founder, JustSpace Alliance

3:30 - 4:15 PM: What Do Community and the Social Landscape Look Like in Space?

Craig Calhoun, @craigjcalhoun
Professor of Social Sciences, Arizona State University
Former director and president of the London School of Economics and Political Science
Author of Nations Matter: Culture, History and the Cosmopolitan Dream

Fred Scharmen, @sevensixfive
Associate Professor, Morgan State University's School of Architecture and Planning
Author of Space Settlements

Alex MacDonald
Program Executive for Emerging Space, NASA Office of the Chief Technologist

Lucianne Walkowicz, @shaka_lulu
Astronomer, Adler Planetarium
Co-founder, JustSpace Alliance

4:15 PM: Reception

Join Future Tense the following evening at E Street Cinema for a screening of Mars Attacks! RSVP for this event here.