Although the majority of humanity's current space programs are currently limited to the operation of the international space station and the deployment of probes to analyze distant planets, visions for future space exploration have long-duration missions in sight (such as manned missions to Mars and asteroid mining). According to contemporary literature these missions have the potential to provide tangible and intangible benefits, but they are also subject to public criticism given that increased awareness for environmental protection and preservation has ignited debates surrounding the socio-environmental and financial sustainability of space exploration. In hindsight of past advancements in outer space exploration, the authors follow the assumption that the commercial development will flourish and will provide auxiliary opportunities to overcome existing challenges. However, it is clear that the germination of private investment in the field of space exploration is contingent on the existence of unequivocal international space laws that permit and stimulate pro-profit decision making. Following this line of thought, this paper will explore the divergent definitions of sustainability that exist in the rhetoric of space exploration and will additionally expound on the privatization of space exploration and its relevance to the controversial legal rationales of international space laws.
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