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Mr Scott Steele

Profile summary

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Professional biography

2015 – 2018: University of Sunderland - Bachelor of Law (LLB) Law (Hons): Dissertation Title: The UK Constitution: How the Miller Case changed and challenged the sovereignty of Parliament and tested the UK's constitutional resolve?

2018 – 2019: Newcastle University - Master of Laws (LLM) International Law: Dissertation Title: How does International law deal with the removal of space debris?

2019 – Present(Provisional) Thesis Title: Lessons learnt from Earth: Can COSPAR be used for the enhancement of planetary protection and the cooperation and promotion of explorations of outer space activities by utilising space governance and astrobiology?

My current project is 'The future of the COSPAR Planetary Protection Guidelines: Space governance and astrobiology'. As a member of AstrobiologyOU and OU Law School, I am one of two members specialising in the subject of space governance. Working alongside colleagues, I can consider space sciences, technology and law to ask the question on how can COSPAR be used for planetary protection during space activities, in which contamination does not occur in the space environment.

My thesis will develop a socio-legal and doctrinal approach, with the aim of highlighting:

  1. Evaluating the role of COSPAR planetary protection guidelines as a tool of space governance;
  2. Enhancing the way in which laws, guidelines and best practice can effectively protect pristine environments;
  3. Developing regulations and guidance models to maximise the balance between human exploration and protecting pristine extra-terrestrial environments.  

My future aspirations include cross-discipline publishing, attending and presenting at conferences and developing a successive network of individuals who share in space sustainability goals.

Research interests

Research Department: FBL

Research Group: AstrobiologyOU

  1. Space Law & governance
  2. Astrobiology & space sciences
  3. Planetary Protection & COSPAR 
  4. International and UK public law
  5. Employment & discrimination law
  6. International environmental law
  7. State responsibility & the international community 
  8. Maritime law
  9. Ethical questions in law
  10. Civil litigation 
  11. UK Politics & international relations 

Teaching interests

​Teaching interests range from:

  1. Space law and governance
  2. Employment law and discrimination law
  3. Civil litigation and procedures
  4. International environmental law and environmental justice
  5. International and domestic public law

Impact and engagement

Journal Articles

Steele SM, Can international law provide a basis for actively removing space debris? The Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies (AMOS) Conference (2020)

Steele SM, Human Spaceflight in 2070: As space agencies are working towards sending humans back to the Moon, what will we be doing in 50 years? Will we have settlers living on the Moon or even on Mars? Will we be there thanks to international endeavours, efforts lead by single governments or by private actors? And how may the discoveries of exoplanets effect and boost human spaceflight to go interstellar?, IAC- 20 9 - D6.2. Emerging Global Space Ventures, INTERNATIONAL ASTRONAUTICAL CONGRESS (IAC) (2020)

Cheney T, Newman C, Olsson-Francis K, Steele S, Pearson V and Lee S (2020) Planetary Protection in the New Space Era: Science and Governance. Front. Astron. Space Sci. 7:589817. doi: 10.3389/fspas.2020.589817


Santander Universities Fund recipient

Presentation to Director of Santander Universities and the Open University Vice-Chancellor to discuss the Santander Fund


AstrobiologyOU Research Group Blog Post - The actions of backwards contamination in light of COVID-19


External collaborations


The Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies (AMOS) Conference 2020

The Internationa Astronautical Congress (IAC) 2020 

The British International Studies Association (BISA) 2020

Visiting Researcher -


Planetary Protection in the New Space Era: Science and Governance (2020-11-13)
Cheney, Thomas; Newman, Christopher; Olsson-Francis, Karen; Steele, Scott; Pearson, Victoria and Lee, Simon
Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences, 7, Article 589817