4 October 2014. Issue 70 of ESPI Perspective series identifies a critical need to regulate human exploration on Mars and proposes an expansion of the existing United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) to take on the mantle of this aspect of space exploration governance. The author argues that coordination in this area is key since the technologies and legislation are immature whilst ambitions are higher than ever before – especially with private sector involvement – and that this calls for a credible, institutionalised governance structure which is able to evolve over time.
Mars is unchartered, unknown and unearthly and yet attracts all of humanity. The hazards of the endeavour are overwhelmed by the hype and hope surrounding the enterprise. A variety of private individuals, commercial organisations and national space agencies are engrossed in efforts at landing and inhabiting Mars. However, these efforts are disjoint and there exists little or no coordination. The aspirations as also hazards are immense, the resources scarce and costly. Consequently, left ungoverned the potential for conflict in space exploration is high. The Perspective explores the major issues that might arise in this respect and proposes a way to prevent conflictual situations in human space exploration beyond Earth.