At the end of the Second world war, the US and USSR entered into the cold war era. By that time, the US had a large fleet of strategic bombers placed on air bases around the world, including around the USSR. In response, the Soviet leaders decided to develop rocket technology. Rocket and satellite technology could serve both peaceful and military purposes, and, in addition, were a powerful argument for propaganda and ideological rivalry, demonstrating the scientific and technical potential and military power of the country. Even before the “lunar race” with the purpose of establishing dominance in space, U.S. incorporated the projects of the lunar military bases: Project Lunex and the Horizon Project, with rockets aimed at the USSR, as well as the project of the atomic bombing of the moon А119.
During the great space race, the USSR and the USA were the first and principal “space powers” that could orbit satellites with their rockets, and the “space superpowers” that began the man-controlled space flights.

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The Treaty on principles of governing the activities of states in the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies (following the 1963 Treaty banning nuclear weapon tests in three environments), rejects discriminatory for a number of states policy towards the stakeholders, using the so-called invented “Moscow formula the ratification of international treaties”.

In the discussion, the Soviet Union strongly opposed the proposal to open the outer space Treaty for signature only by states members of the United Nations, specialized agencies, or any other States, which would be invited by the UN General Assembly. In case of the adoption of such a proposal, the countries that were not members of the above-mentioned organizations, in particular the former GDR, were deliberately eliminated from participation in the outer space treaty. Thus, the universal nature of the outer space treaty was fully consistent with its objectives.

Key provisions of the treaty contained in its preamble and 17 articles, are aimed at ensuring the peaceful cooperation of states in space exploration.

Starting October 4, 1957, the first Soviet artificial Earth satellite was launched to the international practice of space flights. The outer space treaty enshrines this practice, proclaiming that space is open for exploration and use by all states without any discrimination on the basis of equality and in accordance with international law, with free access to all areas of celestial bodies. Thus the principle of freedom of exploration and use of outer space received a solid legal basis, and in this regard, the positive role of the UN is unquestionable.

The principle of freedom of exploration and use of outer space was established first as a customary rule of international law, strengthened in a number of resolutions by the UN General Assembly. This principle has become a universally recognized peremptory norm of international law. Freedom of outer space for all states is inextricably linked with certain restrictions of this freedom. The treaty states that the exploration and use of outer space is carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development, and space is the property of all mankind. Also it is stated that states shall conduct all their activities in outer space with due regard for the corresponding interests of all other States.

It is stated that activities in the exploration and use of outer space should be carried out in accordance with international law. These are such principles such as: the prohibition on the threat or use of force in relations between states; peaceful settlement of international disputes; non-interference in the internal affairs of states; sovereign equality of states; fulfilment in good faith of obligations, undertaken by states in accordance with the UN Charter. Freedom of outer space for all States is inextricably linked with certain restrictions of such freedom.

  • Erickson, Lance K. 2010. Space Flight. Lanham, Md.: Government Institutes.
  • Reijnen, Bess C.M. 1992. The United Nations Space Treaties Analysed. Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex: Editions Frontieres.
  • “Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests In The Atmosphere, In Outer Space And Under Water. Moscow, August 5, 1963”. 1963. The American Journal Of International Law 57 (4): 1026. doi:10.2307/2196392.