What Ethical Principles should we adhere to during Space Exploration?

Space Exploration is a kind of expedition linked to many factors, so to act more responsibly astronauts need to weigh the wider impacts of their actions. Directly or indirectly, harm may be caused to either the outer space environment or the person himself. Examples include unjustifiable destruction, damage to property, disclosure of information, damage to the environment. As progress is being made in the scientific and exploratory field, it is becoming critical to improve the code of ethics, safety standards, and planetary protection.

These issues will impact ultimately the areas of Astro-science and even national- and biodefense.

Moving international space law from reactive to proactive:

  • For the future of Space Exploration, it is crucial to present the associative approach of space exploration to the international law and governance related to planetary protection, safety standards, and creating ethical standards.
  • In setting future instructions, the role of the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs will improve the future standards in Space Exploration.
  • A progressive, preventive and clear approach to international law is necessary so people can strictly heed to ethical standards.

Read: Who owns space? Legal issues of space exploration

Mechanisms for management of Space Exploration:

  • Activities on celestial bodies should be tracked to measure environmental impact.
  • There should be continued research on useful management tools and mechanisms for establishing a structure for environmental control.
  • Space corporations should set up a group to further explore ethical values which apply to humans, non-humans, and target objects in the solar system.
  • This also apply to harmful planetary contamination i.e. organic or biological chemicals.

Public participation in policy-making:

  • At the national or regional level, space corporations should encourage their members to accept public statements.
  • By holding a workshop for their members, they can discuss principals, premises, and purposes of public engagement.
  • People would be able to engage, consult and participate in policy-making and make beneficial and comprehensive policies.

Read: What businesses will be in demand in space?

Avoiding organic and biological contamination:

  • Some terrestrial entities may survive during space exploration under specific conditions and they can contaminate other planets. This is called forward contamination.
  • In addition, there might be unknown extraterrestrial life forms, and their ability to contaminate Earth is called back contamination.
  • Hence measures should be taken to establish main specifications for preventing cross-contamination between the target bodies.
  • The sole human existence is a source of contamination, let alone the activities.
  • Even if the harmfulness of contaminants hasn’t yet been proven, measures should be taken to avoid them.

Planetary Protection:

  • While doing Space Exploration, astronauts must comply with the planetary protection guidelines as imposed by United Nations Treaties or the Committee of Space Research (COSPAR).
  • The main objective of planetary protection is to prevent celestial bodies from terrestrial contamination.
  • The main target concerned today by planetary protection is Mars as numerous missions have been designed and sent to the red planet.

Read: Can We Live on Mars?


As progress is made in Space Exploration, more attention must be paid to the ethical standards as this is not a tour or session of a couple of days or months. Our future awaits in Space Exploration and we should find possible solutions to the obstacles that explorers face during their operation, we must not make them suffer.

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