From Buck Rogers to Big Bucks
The philosophy, psychology and law of space
Posted Jan 02, 2014
Luskin's Learning Psychology Series - No. 32
Space: The emerging frontier
In September 2012, I interviewed two lawyers who are exploring the evolving field of “Space Law.” Professor Robert Lutz, a world renowned professor of international law at Southwestern University Law School and Michael Singer, Westlake Village attorney and academic expert on Space law. They defined space law for us in my article published in The Media Psychology Effect titled, Space: Media Psychology’s New Frontier (Luskin, 2012).
Lutz and Singer explained that Space Law encompasses national and international laws governing activities in outer space and it overlaps with domestic, maritime and international law. Lutz pointed out that “Lawyers specializing in international law have not yet agreed on a uniform definition of the term "outer space,” although most lawyers agree that outer space generally begins at the lowest altitude above sea level at which objects can orbit the Earth, approximately 100 km (60 mi).”
Professor Lutz explained that, “Historically, the inception of the field of space law began with the launch of Sputnik, the world's first official satellite hurled into space by the Soviet Union in October 1957 as part of the International Geophysical Year. Since 1957 space philosophy, psychology and law have evolved gaining increasing importance as mankind has come to discover and use space-based resources”.
Computer Generated Images (CGI) and the Media
Michael Singer pointed out that “Sandra Bullock’s recent hit film Gravity gave impetus to wider public interest and understanding because its gasp-worthy effects pull audience members into a space world created by CGI, giving us an up-close, simulated view of space reality. Real life and fantasy have collided and melded together.” He points out that, “The governing law today is the United Nations Outer Space Treaty ratified without all amendments by the U.S. Senate and therefore U.S. Law. This is where we are at present.”
“As a space lawyer,” Singer asserted, “I assure you that all of the legal issues surrounding upcoming Space flights will trigger space tourism, including a real estate boom that is sure to follow. These occurrences are just beginning to surface. With them, all manner of issues are before us. For example, what happens if a loose appendage from a Direct TV satellite breaks loose and strikes a Virgin Galactic Spaceship? The monetary claims for damages could be in the billions,” he explained.
“Space travel is the next international frontier and I am most excited to be a part of it,” said Singer.
“Pioneering space visionaries included Jules Verne, Gene Roddenberry, Stanly Kubrick, Conrad Hilton, John Kennedy, Richard Branson and Elan Musk, and there are so many others. Influenced by these pioneers, my personal mission is to actively encourage young people to join in exploring this imminent next frontier. The field is vast and filled with new challenges to address in media, psychology, education, science, communication, transportation, tourism, mining, defense systems, intergalactic communications, intellectual property, ownership rights and effects of all types. There is a philosophy, a psychology and a legal framework that includes evolving implications we must study, using what we learn to create a future that we want to have. I encourage Moorpark College to host programs in its well known college observatory to help lead the way in increasing public understanding of the various dimensions of the psychology, philosophy and evolving implications of Space Law. Moorpark College is a resource and can be a leader in providing examples of programs highlighting growing interest and advancements in space and working with Astrological Societies, it can help highlight and share new developments in space,” urged Singer. With Moorpark College in the lead and observatories on various campuses throughout the nation, we can begin to network and learn together.
The Future has been launched.
Michael Singer reminded me that his grandfather and uncle were founders of SEGA, the renowned entertainment game company. He grew up with Sega and other electronic games and believes that entertainment media stimulate and challenge one’s imagination and increase the enthusiasm and vision of space technology innovators. The military now exensively studies the psychology of media-centric games.
Space law and psychology are expanding.
Robert Lutz helped sharpen the conversation by highlighting that while domestic law, international law, maritime law and space law overlap, they also continually break new ground. As they expand beyond each other they provide the study of media effects with a framework for the new future of media, publishing and extraterrestrial communication. "With China overtly moving forward and the global private sector joining in, international competition will grow dramatically. The exploration and use of space and the contest of competing interests and values creates a very ripe, new arena for legal attention and active involvement," explained professor Lutz.
From Buck Rogers to Big Bucks.
Singer and Lutz agree on several key issues:
• The tort field of space law damage claims will spiral into billions of dollars related to satellite damage caused by collisions with negligently controlled space debris.
• Efforts to communicate in space will be increasingly in the news and on political agendas.
• Hundreds of new inventions and thousands of new patents are currently making their way to the U.S. patent office.
• Lawyers have begun debating a myriad of issues related to ownership rights on the Moon, Mars, and beyond.
• Legislators argue whether operators of tourism space travel should be exempt from liability, like ski lift operators.
Ordinary people are beginning to dream of owning a piece of a planet or a star. As we experience this increase in previously fantasized galactic functioning, media and communications psychology and technology will be central to our world of the future.
A purpose of this article is intended to further identify your interest in exploring aspects of space philosophy, psychology, law and the meaning of the expansion in space with an eye towards offering seminars, in my case at the Moorpark College Observatory, and facilitating written exchanges as this exciting new field grows. Please email your suggestions to: BernieLuskin@gmail.com.
Photo: Moorpark College Observatory, Moorpark, California
Luskin, Bernard, Space: Media Psychologies New Frontier. September, 2012, Link:
Luskin, B. J. (2012). Space and Media Psychology, New Frontiers [Media Psychology and Space].Professional Journal Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-media-psychology-effect/201209/s...
Dr. Bernard Luskin is President of Moorpark College in Ventura County, California. He is also President of The Society for Media Psychology and Technology, Division 46 of the American Psychological Association, and Professor, Applied Psychology at the Wright Graduate University. Bernie Luskin has been CEO of eightd colleges and universities, Chairman of the Board of the American Association of Community Colleges and CEO of divisions of Fortune 500 companies, including Philips Interactive Media and Jones Education Networks. He received the UCLA Deans Scholar Award for contributions to media and education and a lifetime achievement award from The Society for Media Psychology and Technology of the American Psychological Association, UCLA Doctoral Alumni Association, CSULA, The Irish Government and European Commission. He is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and School Psychologist. BernieLuskin@gmail.com.
Contributors: Thanks to Toni Luskin, Ph.D., and Andrea Rambo for your help in preparing and posting this article.
Michael Singer, Esq., President of Universe Broadcasting Corporation (UBC), former Sega board member and entertainment executive specializing in the development of video games.
Robert Lutz, Esq., Professor of International Law at Southwestern University School of Law and former chair or the American Bar Association committee on international law.