Space law is often described as the body of law governing space-related activities. It’s been around for more than six decades, yet it is not widely taught in law schools in the United States. According to AJ Link, an adjunct professor at the Howard University School of Law (HUSL), only two law schools currently offer an LLM, or Master of Laws, degrees that specialize in space law: the University of Mississippi School of Law and the University of Nebraska College of Law.
Thanks to the lack of access to space law as a field of study, Black people are not fully represented in the space law profession, he said. It is against this background that Link finds it honored to be an adjunct professor at HUSL and to be teaching the first space law class offered at an HBCU law school.
“It is important that we give students the opportunity not only to learn about space law, but to develop a passion for it. With this opportunity, they can realize the careers in being space law experts,” he said to The Dig.
Link discovered space law while he was a 1L student at George Washington Law in Washington, D.C. He said he was lucky enough to have gone to one of the few schools at the time that did not only have a space law class but also a space law student group.
Link went on to receive his LLM in space law from the University of Mississippi, becoming one of the handful of Black people in the world with that degree. He said since then, he has met other Black space law professionals but not all of them have space law degrees or academic backgrounds.
“A lot of Black space law professionals have found their way into the field following interesting paths. Very few of us specifically studied and trained space law professionals. That is unacceptable. Black people need to be part of the growing space sector, not just in STEM-related areas,” said the professor.
He indicated that as part of his space law class, “students not only learn the black letter law of international space treaties and US space policy, they also get to meet space law professionals from NASA, US Space Force, The American Society of International Law, private space companies, law firms with specialized practice areas for space, and more.”
Currently, HUSL is one of the few U.S. law schools that offers a space law club and a space law course to its students, and it is the only HBCU to do so. But Howard can do more to develop Black space professionals, Link said.
“Howard has the chance to be the premier space law institution in the country and should not miss the opportunity to grow its space law class offering into a full space law program that can prepare its students and graduates to fully explain that yes–Space law is a real thing,” Link said.