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This Article is about how government ethics supports humanity’s sustained exploration of outer space. Connotations of space sustainability include addressing all bases so that space activity develops to maximize human benefit. NASA’s ethics practice advances key mission objectives by supporting workforce talent acquisition, talent transfer to other organizations supporting national space objectives, disseminating public information on NASA’s activities, and advancing space commerce development. Following the earlier concurrent development of US government ethics law and human spaceflight, the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) has advanced a global anti-corruption framework of which government ethics is part. The significance of government ethics becoming part of a broader anti-corruption norm is magnified by the extraordinary signaling value of space, exemplified by how space related work has been used to signal power and prestige. Consequently, a reputationally adverse event in space may damage public perception of space activities far out of proportion to its role in the aggregate. Therefore, government ethics considerations are germane to ensuring, in order to keep space exploration on a sustainable route, that space messaging does not signal contrary to evolving international anti-corruption norms. Space exploration actors should individually and in their collective efforts consider the implications for government ethics in their activities to ensure humanity’s best future space path.

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Publication Date

Summer 6-1-2022








Northern Illinois University Law Review

Suggested Citation

Adam F. Greenstone, Government Ethics and Sustainable Space Exploration, 42 N. Ill. U. L. Rev. 313 (2022).

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Law Commons



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