Webinar: Space Debris and Sustainability

This was the next part in Volterra Fietta’s virtual seminar series on Space Law.  Further seminars will be hosted in the first quarter of 2022 and will focus on Arms in Space and on Artificial Intelligence in Space.


The growing concerns regarding the protection of the environment are going beyond Earth and reaching outer space. The increasing demand for satellites and space activities has contributed to an exponential growth on the amount of space debris, or space junk, orbiting the planet. This increase comes with relevant implications to space exploration in several fields involving sustainability, liability, regulation and insurance concerns.


Space operators and States are having to deal with the complex technical, regulatory and legal issues arising out of the impact of space debris to life on Earth and to the use of space. And the studies recently compiled show that the time to act on it is now.


Volterra Fietta’s third space law webinar addressed this complicated and interesting issue of law and sustainability.


Our distinguished panellists included:


  • Christopher Johnson, Space Law Advisor for Secure World Foundation. Mr Johnson has authored and co-authored publications on international space law, national space legislation, international cooperation in space, human-robotic cooperative space exploration, and on the societal benefits of space technology for Africa. Prior to joining the Secure World Foundation, Mr Johnson has worked in the space law field, including at the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, the Office of International and Interagency Relations at the NASA Headquarters and the International Law and EU Legal Affairs division at the European Space Agency. Mr Johnson also serves as a Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington D.C., is an Adjunct Faculty at the International Space University in Strasbourg, France, the Legal Advisor for the Moon Village Association, and a Core Expert and Rule Drafter in the Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Activities in Outer Space (MILAMOS) project.


  • Nikolai Khlystov, Lead for Space at the World Economic Forum, based in Geneva. Mr Khlystov leads the various efforts like the Global Future Council on Space, the Space Sustainability Rating and Space Traffic Management. He has supported the Socio-Economic Panel of the Hague International Space Resources Governance Working Group and is currently a member of the IAA Permanent Committee on Space Traffic Management. He has appeared on a number of space related panels. Mr Khlystov is a Russian Canadian and first became interested in space in his last year of university’s bachelor degree. Nikolai is a graduate of the Global Leadership Fellows Master programme at the Forum; he also holds a master’s degree in international business management from University of Geneva and a Bachelor’s degree in commerce from Carleton University in Ottawa.


  • Romain Lucken, CTO and Co-founder at Share My Space. Mr Lucken is an expert in numerical modelling and simulation for complex physical systems, and holds a PhD in Plasma Physics from Paris-Saclay University. Having worked at Airbus Defence & Space and at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Mr Lucken co-founded, in 2017, Share My Space, a French New Space startup with a holistic offering in the Space Situational Awareness domain. The company’s activities include the detection of objects in orbit, their cataloguing, the real-time update of the catalogue, and advanced data processing. Mr Lucken is responsible for product development and project management.


  • Gunjan Sharma, Counsel at Volterra Fietta.  Mr Sharma has represented States before the International Court of Justice, represented investors and States in investor-State arbitrations and been counsel to clients before numerous US courts.  This has included representing clients in nine-figure disputes involving claims arising out of the alleged denial of space spectrum and interference with space transmissions.  In addition to his significant litigation experience, Mr Sharma routinely advises companies on complex issues of international law and investment risk. Mr Sharma has also advised clients on dispute resolution, indemnification clauses, stabilisation clauses, investment risk mitigation and sovereign immunity issues in over 300 commercial transactions. Based on the recommendations of his clients and peers, Mr Sharma has been recognised as a “Rising Star” in public international law, “for sure”, by Legal500 and as a “Rising Star” in Commercial Arbitration by Euromoney.


This event was moderated by Florentine Vos, Associate at Volterra Fietta.  Ms Vos advises States, international organisations and private clients on issues of public international law and international dispute settlement, including before the International Court of Justice and in investor-State arbitration. Her expertise covers a wide array of public international law topics, including the law on State responsibility, reparations in international law, deep seabed mining and space law.  She regularly publishes, speaks and gives (radio) interviews on issues of space law.


For any queries regarding the content of the seminar, please email Gunjan Sharma at