# The Time is Always Right to Do What is Right

FOREWORD
THE TIME IS ALWAYS RIGHT TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT
STEVEN A. MIRMINA*
I. INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
II. A FEW BAD APPLES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
A. ASAT Tests. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
B. Race Cars in Space . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
C. Disco Balls and Pinballs in Space . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
D. Tardigrades . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
III. IS IT LEGAL TO POLLUTE OUTER SPACE?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
IV. THAT WHICH IS NOT FORBIDDEN IS .. .?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
V. JUST BECAUSE ITS LEGAL, IT DOESNT MEAN ITS RIGHT . . . . . . . 9
I. INTRODUCTION
The terms “legal and “illegal” are not synonymous with right and
wrong. Law schools generally do not teach how these terms are distinct.
This is true as much on Earth as it is in outer space.
When a client asks his attorney, “Can I take a certain action?” they
usually are asking, “Is there a law out there preventing me from doing
this?” However, that should not be the sole measurement by which one
decides to take a certain action or not. The calculation should not be
“Will I go to jail if I do this?” But rather, the yardstick should be, “Is this
the right thing to do?” In other words, just because something is not
forbidden, it does not necessarily mean that it is advisable.
Currently, in the f‌ield of Space Law, this happens to be a very timely
issue. Numerous recent events have demonstrated the quandary of
doing what is legal versus doing that which is right. In fact, Space Law
* Steve Mirmina teaches Space Law as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University Law
Center, Yale Law School, and at UConn Law School. He has spoken widely and has authored
numerous articles in the f‌ields of international air and space law. He has received awards from
both NASA and the White House for exceptional and distinguished service to the government.
The title to this Foreword comes from remarks of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his address to