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The battle for space is about to heat up

In the coming decades the world is likely to enter a new space race—and the agreements in place to govern what can and can’t be done are long out of date

By Tim Marshall  

© Chris Tilbury / Prospect / vthokiefans / Flickr

Westphalia in space? It’s not going to fly. When the great powers signed the treaties of Westphalia in 1648, they created a system in which sovereign states recognized each other’s borders and agreed not to change them or to interfere in each other’s domestic affairs. One thing they didn’t have to bother agreeing on was the question of how high up those borders had to extend. Almost 400 years later we do—but we haven’t managed it yet. 

It’s one of many questions that have become pressing as a golden age of space exploration beckons over the limitless horizon. Can…

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