Senjuti Mallick is a space law specialist, who currently works as the senior legal and compliance officer at COMSPOC Corporation, a commercial space situational awareness and space traffic management company in the USA..COMSPOC primarily focuses on providing services related to the monitoring, tracking and management of objects in Earth's orbit..In this interview, Mallick, who works to promote space sustainability and responsible space exploration, talks about the significance of space in the Indian context, the challenges the field poses, career prospects and more..Edited excerpts follow..Bar & Bench: India has made significant strides in space exploration and satellite technology. Is there a need for a national space law for a country like India?.Senjuti Mallick (SM): India's pioneering advances - notably the Chandrayaan, Gaganyaan and Aditya missions and the deployment of several satellites - are not only testament to its expanding prowess in outer space endeavors, but also underscore the burgeoning value of its space economy. With its current valuation at approximately $8.4 billion, forming 2% of the global space economy, projections estimate an impressive surge to around $44 billion by 2033, capturing 8% of the global market share. This meteoric rise in India's space stature necessitates a robust legal structure.The indispensability of a comprehensive space law for a major space-faring nation like India is multi-pronged:(i) safeguarding national security, economic interests, and sovereignty in outer space;(ii) compliance with international obligations;(iii) establishing regulations for extracting and utilizing space resources in a sustainable and equitable manner(iv) facilitating private sector involvement;(v) ensuring preservation of the space environment and preventing space debris creation, (vi) enhancing coordination among various government agencies and stakeholders involved in space activities, and (vii) integrating space applications into their development strategies for contributing towards UN SDGs. My research on the importance of laws and norms in space, published in The Space Review journal, delves deeper into the significance of legal frameworks for space activities and supplements it with illustrative cases..B&B: What would a national space law for India look like?.SM: In my opinion, India's prospective national space law framework may adopt the structure of an all-encompassing Space Act, which would harmonize international space law principles while tailoring its provisions to suit India's unique circumstances.Such legislation could potentially cover a range of facets, including licensing protocols, liability mechanisms, compliance with international accords, strategies for space debris mitigation, the management of space traffic, directives for spacecraft launch and re-entry, and considerations pertaining to national security, among others.To ensure the effectiveness of such a law, it is crucial that it is meticulously crafted with inputs from a diverse array of experts, including legal scholars, scientists, policymakers and representatives from the space industry. This collaborative approach is essential for addressing the intricate challenges and opportunities posed by the space sector.It is noteworthy that the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) took a significant step by unveiling the Indian Space Policy 2023, a forward-looking document that had been in development for several years. This policy has been positively received. However, to fully realize the aspirations outlined in the policy, it should be complemented by appropriate legislation plus clear and well-defined rules and regulations.This would establish the requisite legal framework to effectively implement the policy's objectives and ensure that India's space activities are conducted responsibly, securely and sustainably. The combination of an all-encompassing space law and a well-defined space policy would position India for continued growth and innovation in the space sector..Well defined rules and regulations needed to fully realise the aspirations of ISRO's Indian Space Policy 2023.Senjuti Mallick.B&B: Are there any notable trends or developments in space policy on a global scale that you believe are relevant in the Indian context?.SM: Earlier this year, McKinsey estimated that the space market has grown to approximately $447 billion and could grow to $1 trillion by 2030. This has been fueled by a significant shift towards the involvement of the private sector in space activities. Companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin and others have shown the capabilities of the private sector in launching payloads and developing space technologies. Given India's burgeoning private space sector, there's a lot to learn from this global trend.Secondly, with the increasing number of satellites and large constellations, there's a growing need for effective Space Traffic Management (STM). This is crucial for India, especially with its plans to deploy more satellites in various orbits..There's a growing need for effective Space Traffic Management. This is crucial for India.Senjuti Mallick.Thirdly, nations like the US and Luxembourg have taken legislative steps towards the utilization of space resources. As India looks towards planetary exploration, understanding and potentially integrating such policies might become relevant.Fourthly, the global resurgence of interest in human spaceflight, including private human missions, may influence India's future human spaceflight endeavors.Finally, as we see more nations leveraging space for services like internet coverage (Starlink, Project Kuiper), the need to regulate frequencies and orbital slots, and to ensure equitable access becomes imperative. India, with its vast population and digital aspirations, would want to be at the helm of these regulatory conversations..B&B: Space law is a fascinating but often overlooked field. Could you give us a brief overview of what space law encompasses and why it's important in today's world?.SM: Space law is a specialized field that entails the principles and rules regulating human activities in outer space. Rooted in both international treaties such as the cornerstone Outer Space Treaty, 1967, and national legislation, space law establishes key tenets like the peaceful use of space, the idea that space activities should benefit all of humanity and the principle of non-appropriation, which asserts that no part of outer space can be claimed by any sovereign nation. The significance of space law in today's world cannot be overstated. It preserves outer space as a global commons, preventing unilateral exploitation and militarization, and promotes the peaceful and equitable use of this shared resource. It also contributes to security and peace by restricting the deployment of weapons in space and preventing space-based arms races. .The significance of space law in today's world cannot be overstated.Senjuti Mallick.Moreover, space law facilitates economic development by accommodating the growing commercialization of space while ensuring adherence to international norms. It also plays a crucial role in environmental protection by encouraging responsible behaviour and space debris mitigation practices. Additionally, space law fosters international cooperation, facilitating partnerships between countries and private entities in space exploration and utilization. As our dependence on space technologies continues to increase, space law is pivotal in safeguarding our interests and preserving the sustainability of space..B&B: As we look to the future of space exploration, what trends or advancements do you anticipate will have the most significant legal implications for the field of space law?.SM: In the future of space exploration, I see three primary trends. First, the rise of space tourism will require legal regulations covering passenger safety, informed consent and liability in sub-orbital and orbital flights. Second, taking a cue from the Artemis Accords, expanding international collaborations and space diplomacy will lead to the development of new legal agreements to govern space exploration and the sharing of resources. Global cooperation in space missions will necessitate the development of harmonized international standards and exhaustive dispute-resolution mechanisms. Lastly, the emergence of space debris management and active removal techniques will raise questions about liability, responsibility and the sustainable use of outer space. As these trends evolve, it's imperative for space law to adapt, ensuring that it fosters innovation while preserving the peaceful use of space..B&B: With an increase in space exploration, there has been an exponential growth in space debris and congestion in Earth's orbit. Considering this, how can space exploration become more sustainable?.SM: As we've ventured more into space, the number of objects circling Earth has skyrocketed. Earth's orbits are now teeming with more than 1 million space debris pieces that are greater than 1 cm, and countless smaller fragments. This clutter, made up of old satellites, leftover rocket parts and other debris, poses a big risk to working satellites, space missions and astronaut safety. Collisions with such debris could set off a domino effect, called the Kessler Syndrome, where crashes increase debris exponentially. This could make space paths dangerous and potentially off-limits for future use..Earth's orbits are now teeming with more than 1 million space debris, posing risks to satellites, space missions and astronaut safety.Senjuti Mallick.Achieving space sustainability in the face of increasing space exploration and global competition is undeniably challenging, but vital for the long-term health of space activities. Legal frameworks, such as the Outer Space Treaty and Guidelines for the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities (LTS Guidelines), adopted by the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS), play a pivotal role in striking a balance between encouraging innovation and preventing unchecked exploitation. I propose that these frameworks are essential for governing activities like satellite launches, space exploration and commercial space ventures to ensure that these activities are conducted responsibly and sustainably. This has garnered widespread acceptance and is actively informing policy decisions globally.Some illustrations of existing frameworks are the Outer Space Treaty, which promotes space exploration for peaceful purposes and establishes a no-war zone in space; the UN-approved moratorium of 2022, which prohibits destructive anti-satellite (ASAT) tests; and the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules that mandate satellite deorbiting after five years to alleviate space congestion. Industry standards, such as those by the Space Safety Coalition (SSC) and the Space Sustainability Rating (SSR), provide guidance and best practices for space operations. In addition to the above, the Outer Space Treaty and LTS Guidelines set forth obligations for states to minimize space debris generation..B&B: What initially sparked your interest in this area of law and what motivates you to continue your work in this area?.SM: The allure of space law for me began with a realization: while space is the final frontier, its exploration hinges on the intersection of technology, humanity and law. The idea that we could craft rules and regulations for a realm as boundless as space was both awe-inspiring and humbling. Every guideline we draft, every policy we propose, it's all to ensure that as we reach for the stars, we do so ethically, sustainably, and in a way that celebrates the unity of humanity. This field allows me to be part of a transformative journey that extends beyond borders and generations and that is what keeps my passion alive and thriving..It's all to ensure that as we reach for the stars, we do so ethically, sustainably, and in a way that celebrates the unity of humanity.Senjuti Mallick on the allure of Space Law.B&B: As someone who has worked both nationally and internationally in space law, what are some of the unique opportunities you have encountered?.SM: Navigating the expanse of space law has provided me with unparalleled experiences. Collaborating with distinguished thought leaders and eminent institutions like the United Nations, Secure World Foundation, Observer Research Foundation and Project Ploughshares (to mention a few), I've had the opportunity to be an integral part of shaping the discourse on critical space law issues. In addition, as space law is inherently interdisciplinary, it has allowed me to work closely with professionals from various fields such as science, engineering, diplomacy and policy, to tackle the complex legal challenges posed by space activities. An especially rewarding experience has been my association with esteemed organizations like COMSPOC Corporation, Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) and the International Institute of Space Law (IISL) that are steering the future of sustainable space exploration. .It was an honour to teach international law for the Oxbridge Program at Harvard Law School and deliver a TEDx Talk on the issue of space debris, both of which provided me an incredible platform to explain complex space law concepts to a broader audience and raise awareness about this unchartered territory. Moreover, one of the most gratifying facets of my journey has been the privilege to mentor the next wave of space enthusiasts. These experiences have offered me the unique opportunity to bridge the gap between technology and law, as well as among commercial, governmental, academic and international organizations..Bar & Bench: What advice would you give those interested in pursuing a career in this field?.SM: Space law is a fascinating and dynamic field, so your enthusiasm and dedication will be your greatest assets. For aspiring space law experts, it's essential to solidify your foundational understanding of traditional legal principles, including the interplay between domestic and international law. Continuously stoke your curiosity and update your knowledge to keep abreast with this rapidly evolving field, intertwining your legal studies with insights from science, technology, geopolitics and business. Actively seek practical experiences with relevant organizations or agencies to hone your skills and gain first-hand exposure to the intricacies of the field. Finally, don’t shoot down your efforts or discount the good work you are doing presently; it could be your differentiator.