Graduate Courses

The Space Policy Institute offers graduate courses on U.S. space policy and is affiliated with the International Science and Technology Policy Program at The Elliott School of International Affairs. The core course in the fall term,  "U.S. Space Policy," is an overview of U.S. space activities in their international context. The spring course, "Issues in U.S. Space Policy," focuses on an in-depth examination of one or more current issues in space policy, including topics such as space and national security and space law. Examples of recent course offerings are listed below.

Courses Taught Each Year:

U.S. Space Policy
Dr. Dana Johnson
This course is an examination of the origins, evolution, current status, and future prospects of U.S. space policies and programs. It will cover the civilian, military, and national security space programs of the U.S. government and the space activities of the U.S. private sector, and the interactions among these four sectors of U.S. space activity. This examination will be cast in the context of the space activities of other countries, and of international cooperation and competition in space. The goal of the course is to give the student an exposure to the policy debates and decisions that have shaped U.S. efforts in space to date, and to the policy issues that must be addressed in order to determine the future goals, content, pace, and organization of U.S. space activities, both public and private.


Issues in U.S. Space Policy: Tools and Scenarios (Space Economics)
Dr. Henry Hertzfeld

This course is aimed at understanding economic issues and analytical tools that non-economists working in policy positions should know in order to be able to evaluate economic analyses and make informed and balanced judgments on economic aspects of space ventures.


Space and National Security
Dr. Peter Hays

As shown by military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo, space capabilities have become increasingly important to the U.S. military in recent years. The many broad interrelationships between space and national security have also been under careful examination recently. The Space Commission Report, for example, found that because U.S. military and economic security has become so dependent on undefended space assets, the nation could face a "space Pearl Harbor." Others argue that the United States should act to establish space control, defined as U.S. ability to access and use space in its interests and to deny such access to U.S. adversaries. In addition, there is a growing debate over the wisdom and feasibility of stationing force application systems - "space weapons" - in orbit. This course will examine these and other issues associated with U.S. strategy, policy, and organization for the national security uses of space.


Space Law
Dr. Henry Hertzfeld

Space activities operate in an international and global environment. The foundations of international legal principles are found in five treaties developed within the framework of the United Nations. Many nations participating in space activities also have domestic laws that provide direction to government space programs as well as laws that regulate commercial and private space activities.

This course will review the underlying principles of international space law. The emphasis will be on issues that will be of particular concern in the future as the uses of space for exploration, commerce, and security increases. Such legal issues include:

- liability for accidents,
- property rights in space and on celestial bodies,
- the use of space for military and security purposes.

The course will also review and compare the national space laws of different countries with an emphasis on the laws and regulations of the United States including recent developments in commercial human spaceflight.

Looking to the future, there are numerous legal uncertainties in space law that overlap and are intertwined with international relations, international law, commercial law, and the relationship between governmental civilian and defense space activities. This course will provide an overview to the important, and as of yet, unresolved legal issues that will confront the space community in the years ahead.



Courses Offered Intermittently:

EHS 6227: Introduction to Human Health in Aerospace

This course is taught through the Medical School and is designed to introduce aerospace medicine concepts in an interdisciplinary fashion to anyone who is interested in human spaceflight.  There will be elements of physiology, medicine, law, policy, engineering, and history incorporated into the course.  Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to: 

-Outline the effects of spaceflight on human physiology and the medical issues that may arise during space travel, 
-Compare and contrast daily life on Earth with living and working in space,
-Critically analyze the impact of both long duration and long distance spaceflight on human health,
-Evaluate the medical requirements for commercial space endeavors,

-Analyze the increasingly interdisciplinary and international nature of human spaceflight.


IAFF 6158.13 - Geospatial Law and Policy

Spatial data (data that places a person or object at a particular place) is now commonplace as a result of technologies such as navigation devices, GPS-enabled phones, web-based mapping services, location-based services, commercial satellite imagery and radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. As a result, governments, businesses, and consumers have embraced spatial (or location) data in their daily operations. Unfortunately, the legal and policy communities have not kept pace with the proliferation of this technology. Therefore, IT and telecommunication companies, internet commerce and social networking businesses, government contractors, law enforcement and a wide range of other government agencies are looking for help in understanding how to collect, use and distribute spatial data for operational purposes.

In this course, students will learn the important legal and policy issues associated with the collection, use, and distribution of spatial data. Through discussion of important cases and differing viewpoints on important policy matters, we will explore some unique attributes of spatial data, the relationship of data quality and potential liability, the concept of privacy from a location standpoint, and potential national security concerns. We will also consider issues of licensing or transferring spatial data, including intellectual property rights, representations and warranties, and metadata.

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to understand both the legal issues associated with the use of spatial data within their business or government agency as well as the implications of policy as it develops around this increasingly important technology.