Since international space law is developing parallel with space technology, the treatise reflects this close relationship between natural and social sciences. Indeed, in some cases lawmaking is even somewhat ahead of scientific and technological progress (a case in point is the Agreement on the Activity of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, adopted in the United Nations in 1979, which relates to the rights and duties of states in utilizing the natural resources of the Moon and the planets of the solar system). On the other hand, it lags behind practical needs, in other cases, a fact that may be traced, for one thing, to the different approaches of some states to this or that legal problem. A notable part in composing these differences and bringing the positions of states closer together is played by the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). Little wonder, therefore, that a considerable part of this treatise is devoted to analyzing the activities of this UN General Assembly agency, which formulates the rules of international space law and the basic principles governing the activities of states in the exploration and use of outer space.
The mention of the United Nations Organization, one of whose purposes as defined in its Charter as being “to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character,” prompts me to emphasize the particular importance of international cooperation in space. Such cooperation is essential, if not inevitable, by virtue of such facts as the
expediency of an international division of labor in this expensive area of research, the advantages of pooling scientific potentials as a means of speeding the progress of space exploration, the need to share the benefits of space exploration with countries unable to explore it on their own, and the danger of space technology being used for aggressive purposes.