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Mr Scott Steele

Profile summary

Web links

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 of 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 practices 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. International Public Law
  3. International Environmental Law
  4. Public Law

Teaching interests

Teaching interests

  1. Contract Law
  2. Public Law
  3. Tort & Civil litigation
  4. Property Law
  5. Equity & Trusts
  6. Employment law and Discrimination Law
  7. Space law and Governance
  8. International Environmental Law 
  9. International Public Law
  10. International Disputes 
  11. Law of the Seas

Impact and engagement

Accepted Abstracts


International Astronautical Congress (IAC) -

IAF Space Transportation Solution and Innovations Symposium IAF (D2) Emerging Global Space Ventures, including Reusability and other Innovations (9-D6.2) – The Outlook of human spaceflight in 2070: Considerations and arising legal issues.

IISL Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space (E7) Interactive Presentations – International space law and hindrance to space activities?

IISL Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space (E7) International cooperation on the way to the Moon and Mars (2) – Public-private partnerships; The preferred method for space, or an enhancement of international space law?

International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS) –

An actionable and reasonable view on the removal of space debris in a building block exercise for the future of space governance and sustainability

Human Spaceflight in 2070: As space agencies are working toward sending humans back to the Moon, what will we be doing in 50 years? Will we have settlers on the Moon or even Mars?

Can international law provide a basis for actively removing space debris?

Leicester law school postgraduate research conference –

The future of the COSPAR Planetary Protection Guidelines: Space Governance and Astrobiology.


International Astronautical Congress (IAC) -

IAF symposium on space security (E9) Virtual Presentations – Can international law provide a basis for actively removing space debris?

IAF Space transportation solutions and innovation symposium (D2) Emerging Global Space Ventures (9-D6.2) – The Outlook of Human Spaceflight in 2070

The Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies (AMOS) –

Can international law provide the basis for actively removing space debris?

IISL Symposium on Maintaining the Rule of Law in Outer Space in an Age of Rapid Innovation-

Is Humanity’s return to the Moon: Maintaining the Rule of Law in the Age of Artemis?

British International Studies Association (BISA) –

Sustaining the Outer Space Environment: Now and in the Future (Virtual Roundtable)

Committee of Space Research (COSPAR) –

Planetary Protection Policy (PPP.1) - A new perspective on an old consideration: Backwards contamination. The sleeping conundrum to scientific investigation and the future cornerstone of space governance.

1. Santander Universities Fund Recipient
2. 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


2022 Fellow FRSA - The Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce

2022 Associate Fellow AFHE - Advance HE

2022 Reviewer - The Journal of Space Safety Engineering

2022 Reviewer - International Journal of Law and Society

2022 Reviewer – Cambridge University Press 



International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS) 2021

The International Astronautical Congress (IAC) 2021 

Committee of Space Research (COSPAR) 2021

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

The International Astronautical Congress (IAC) 2020 

The British International Studies Association (BISA) 2020


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