Inaugural Space Diplomacy Symposium 2023

As the numbers and types of space actors increase, the importance of diplomacy will increase in maintaining cooperation, coordination and collaboration in the space domain. The aim of the annual Space Diplomacy Symposium (SDS) is to situate diplomacy in the traditional categories of civilian, commercial and military space activities across all regions of the world.

Inaugural Space Diplomacy Symposium

This inaugural event is by invitation only.

29 Nov. 2023
8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

UW School of Law
William H. Gates Hall, 115

The symposium is made possible by the Space Law, Data and Policy (SPACE LDP) Program at the School of Law at the University of Washington, working this inaugural year with the European Common Security Policy Symposium, the University of Hawai’i Center for Indo-Pacific Affairs, the Northeastern University Center for International Affairs and World Cultures, and the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies.


  • UW School of Law
  • UW Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies
  • UW Center for West European Studies
  • Northeastern University Center for International Affairs and World Cultures
  • University of Hawai'i' Center for Indo-Pacific Affairs
  • Co-funded by the European Union

Co-funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.

Panels and Speakers

9:15 a.m.: Welcome Remarks

  • Tamara F. Lawson, Toni Rembe Dean and Professor of Law
  • Danny Hoffman, Director, The Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies

The Space Law, Data and Policy Program (SPACE LDP), UW School of Law

  • Scott Schumacher, Associate Dean, Director of the Global Business Law Institute (GBLI); and Professor of Law, University of Washington School of Law
  • Saadia M. Pekkanen, Founding Director of SPACE LDP; Job and Gertrud Tamaki Endowed Professor at The Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies and Adjunct Professor, UW School of Law

Supporters Circle

  • Sabine Lang, Professor of International and European Studies and Director of the Center for West European Studies, A Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence, The Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies
  • Mai’a K. Davis Cross, Associate Dean; Dean’s Professor of Political Science, International Affairs and Diplomacy; Director of the Center for International Affairs & World Cultures, Northeastern University
  • Kristi Govella, Assistant Professor, Asian Studies; and Director of the Center for Indo-Pacific Affairs (CIPA), University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

Setting the Stage: “Space Diplomacy: The Final Frontier of Theory and Practice”

  • Mai’a K. Davis Cross, Northeastern University
  • Saadia M. Pekkanen, SPACE LDP, UW School of Law

9:30 a.m.: Principal Keynote: Diplomacy in the World Order

The purpose of this segment is to offer broad reflections on the role, practice and relevance of diplomacy in the international relations of space.

2023 Inaugural Keynote Speaker

Thomas Countryman, Board Chairman, Arms Control Association; former Acting Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, U.S. Department of State

10 a.m.: Space Security and Military Space Diplomacy

The purpose of this segment is to showcase allied diplomatic initiatives for peace in, through, and at the nexus of space and the principal challenges these efforts face from the tactical to the strategic level.

  • Chair: David Bachman, Associate Director, The Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies; and Henry M. Jackson Professor of International Studies
  • Xavier Pasco, Director of the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS), France, “Space Defense Strategies and Collective Security in Space.”
  • Rear Admiral Brett Heimbigner (Ret.), Visiting Scholar in the Center for West European Studies, UW; former Deputy Director for the U.S. Joint Staff Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Directorate; Director of Intelligence and Warning for NATO, Director of Intelligence for North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and US Northern Command; currently a Raytheon employee supporting NORAD Modernization and the Missile Defense Agency: "“Integrating Space Capabilities to Enable NORAD and NATO Collective Defense Against Advanced Threats.”
  • Lt Col Frank Kuzminski, Headquarters, Department of the Army, “European Security and Commercial Space Companies: Observations from the Russia-Ukraine Conflict.”
  • Lt Col Jennifer Beisel, Deputy Commander, Air Force ROTC Detachment 910, UW; former Detachment Commander, United States Space Force, “Space Security: A Global Agenda.”
  • Kelli Hooke, Senior Legal Counsel, Cloudfare; Public Sector Compliance attorney; and former Operational and International Law Attorney, U.S. Army, “The Role of Commercial Entities in Collective Security.”

11:30 a.m.: Governments and Prospects for Civil Space Diplomacy

The purpose of this segment is to highlight how and why actors across all regions of the world – i.e. Africa, Americas, Arctic, Asia, Australia & New Zealand & Pacific, Europe, Middle East, Russia and Eurasia – are forging diplomatic pathways to sustain space exploration, development and prosperity.

  • Chair: Stephen Gardiner, Professor of Philosophy and Ben Rabinowitz Endowed Professor of the Human Dimensions of the Environment; and Director of the Program on Ethics, UW
  • Mai’a K. Davis Cross, Northeastern University: “‘United Space in Europe?’: The European Space Agency and the EU Space Program.”
  • Kristi Govella, Assistant Professor, Asian Studies; and Director of the Center for Indo-Pacific Affairs (CIPA), University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa: “Evolving Space Diplomacy in Asia: Cooperation and Competition.”
  • Anis Rahman, Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Communication, UW: “BRICS+, Space Diplomacy, and Conflicting Media Narratives of a Multipolar Universe.” 
  • Suzanne Nelson-Pittle, University of Washington School of Law, LL.M. Alumnus, Federal Aviation Administration, Mission Support Services, Air Traffic Organization, “FAA Regulatory Updates from the Trenches: New Regulations Make for Defacto Space Law?”
  • Casey Drier, Chief of Space Policy, The Planetary Society, “Artemis in the Context of International Relations.”

1:15 p.m.: Lunch Keynote: A Case in Space

The purpose of this segment is to raise public awareness of an essential topic in the space domain in which diplomacy will be necessary to pursue opportunities and resolve differences in the peaceful interests of all.

2023 Inaugural Lunch Keynote Speaker

Andrew Connolly, Associate Vice Provost for Data Science; Professor, Department of Astronomy; Director, eScience Institute; Founder and Faulty, Institute for Data Intensive Research in Astrophysics & Cosmology (DiRAC), University of Washington: “The Case of Astronomy: Bright Satellite Mitigation for Science and the Sky.” 

2 p.m.: Perspectives on Space Diplomacy at the Commercial Nexus      

The purpose of this segment is to assess the ways diplomacy opens opportunities in the global space economy for private actors and can be positioned to resolve commercial, legal and policy challenges across sovereign borders.

  • Chair: William Covington, Teaching Professor; and Director of the Technology Law and Public Policy Clinic, UW School of Law
  • Curt Blake, Senior of Counsel, Wilson Sonsini; former CEO, Spaceflight, “Orbital Debris: The Conflicting and Cooperative Roles of Business and Government.”
  • Liberty Shockley, Shockspace; former Chief Vehicle Engineer, United States Space Force, “Bridging the Gap Between Military, Civil, and Commercial Space Operations.”
  • Ben MacWilliams, Principal, D.L. Piper; former SpaceX Senior Starlink Market Access Manager, Middle East, North Africa, & Central Eurasia, “To Build, Or Not to Build? Sovereign NGSO Constellations.”
  • Michael A. Williams, MD, Professor of Neurology and Neurological Surgery, Director of Adult and Transitional Hydrocephalus and CSF Disorders, UW Medicine, “From Apollo and Artemis to Asclepius:  Ethical Guidance for Human Research in Commercial Spaceflight.”
  • Austin Murnane, Senior Legal Counsel, Space Systems Development, Blue Origin, “A Commercial Perspective on Space Diplomacy Opportunities – Past, Present, and Future.”

 3:15 p.m.: Closing Remarks

  • Saadia M. Pekkanen, UW