Aug. 17, 2022

Law alum's career heads into orbit with unexpected passion for space law

Gregory Radisic started with a desire to dig into every aspect of law, and now focuses on this growing field
Gregory Radisic

Do the laws of the land apply to space? 

That’s a question without a definitive answer as human presence beyond the confines of Planet Earth is expected to grow in the years to come. How do we create laws that are applicable in orbit or beyond? 

A graduate from the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Law is channeling his career toward the growing field of space law in the hopes of helping find answers to these questions.

Initially interested in the fields of international security and cybersecurity law, Gregory Radisic, JD’22, had the opportunity to intern with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Surprisingly, this opportunity introduced him to the up-and-coming field of space law.

“I went to law school with the idea that I was going to really try the buffet of law, so to speak, a little bit of everything, and see what kind of meal I want for life,” says Radisic.

Following his internship with UNODC, Radisic successfully completed an internship with the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), followed by an ongoing legal fellowship with the American National Space Society (NSS) and another internship with the European Space Agency (ESA).

“Working for a space agency is probably one of the most exciting things that you can do as a young law student,” he says. “It has invigorated my time in law school and given me a lot of energy and excitement.” 

“Space law” may sound like something out of Star Trek, but it is based on down-to-Earth concepts. For Radisic, space law has been an interwoven experience of policy-making, law and diplomacy. The field is growing rapidly, and only time will tell what the world of space law will look like in the future as space is increasingly used not only for research and testing, but also for potential manufacturing, military applications and even — in the long-term — colonization. Several countries have their sights set on returning humans to the moon before the end of this decade, with human presence on Mars also a possibility in the foreseeable future. 

It is a very fast-paced area of law, and, especially in this past year with international incidents occurring in low earth orbit and the outer space environment, it's brought up a lot of really interesting legal questions which is very interesting to not only read about, but to physically engage with.

Potential legal questions abound that may fall to people like Radisic to answer in the future: for example, if someone in space commits a crime, under whose jurisdiction does the crime fall? What happens if someone commits an act of industrial espionage in orbit? What are the diplomatic implications if two countries sharing a spacecraft halfway on a voyage to Mars go to war?

Some of these questions sound like science fiction today, but Radisic is helping to set the groundwork for addressing them.

“I got to really understand, on a very granular level, what is going on in the space industry in different countries; countries like France and the U.K. with long-established space agencies and a massive space industry, but then [also] smaller ones, like Romania and Poland, that are making equally important impacts to the future of space,” he says.

As to what comes next for Radisic, his goal is to focus his work domestically and have an impact on the aerospace and aviation industries in Canada.