Improving technology could enable new commercial and scientific activities in outer space, including bases, space mining, and advanced science in locations like the Moon or asteroids. To facilitate these and related space exploration activities, the United States has led the development of a new multi-lateral agreement, the Artemis Accords. A key element of the Accords and related soft law is the idea of establishing “safety zones'' surrounding the space operations of participant states and their mission-authorized nationals. Safety zones are controversial because their implementation could violate the non-appropriation principle or other clauses of the Outer Space Treaty. Thus, successfully implementing safety zones is essential to the Artemis Accords’ framework to unlock space resources and other activities. This study reviews the history and principles behind safety zones in outer space and other domains. It reviews the requirements such zones place on operators and the obligations they can create for other states and actors. In reviewing three case studies for specific activities on the Moon, it proposes an algorithm for the establishment, alteration, management, and termination of a safety based on operational and other considerations. Finally, it recommends pathways to develop and implement safety zones in an iterative manner consistent with international law and best practices for industry.
This paper is a pre-print, having been submitted for peer review.