1980 Societal Assessment of SPS

Within UNCOPUOS, there has been little direct attention given to the potential importance of collecting and transmitting solar energy from space to earth. The Committee has shown significant interest in outer space, however, as exhibited by the long-running international debate over the draft Treaty Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (the Moon Treaty). Under the 1967 Principles Treaty, the space environment is considered to be open to all who are able to use it. The radio frequency spectrum, the geostationary orbit, and solar energy are considered natural resources of the space environment. As such, they fall within the "province of all mankind" pursuant to the 1967 Principles Treaty. In the case of the SPS, the consideration of space and its environs as the "province of all mankind" raises the question as to who should benefit from the space resource. The finite geostationary orbit space and increasing competition for its use will influence slot availability for the SPS. Some nations argue that the long-term use of a geostationary orbit slot is the same as appropriating it and is, therefore, in violation of existing international agreements. States with space capabilities have clearly established a customary rule of law, whereby outer space exists beyond the sovereignty of any nation-state. This rule exists in the absence of a formal delimitation between airspace and outer space and in the face of the Bogota Declaration, issued by eight equatorial countries asserting sovereignty over the geostationary orbit above their territory. Attaining SPS orbital slots will, at a minimum, require: (1) some consensus on the first come, first served principle; (2) demonstration of efficient economic use and benefit to all; and (3) recognition that permanent utilization (i.e., ownership) of the orbital slot is not legal. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), an autonomous, specialized agency of the United Nations, is now governed by the Telecommunications Convention and Final Protocol. Under this and previous Telecommunications Conventions, the ITU allocates use of radio frequencies, including microwave frequencies. The ITU is also responsible for preventing broadcast interference. There is a trend at ITU to link the radio spectrum with geostationary orbit position. Since 1973, the position of the ITU has consistently been that the geostationary orbit is a limited resource along with