Article in peer review
As technological progress fails to be matched by social progress, technology itself can be as much a tool for advancing human flourishing as it can be a source of tyranny, misuse by the few, or even a civilizational catastrophe. The use of high-power lasers in space falls within this category, as they can offer great potential for addressing space debris, space exploration, colonization, or planetary defense while carrying the risk of being hijacked as anti-satellite weapons and tools of war. This paper reacts to this dynamic by unpacking the security, legitimacy, and practical aspects of global governance of the peaceful use of lasers in space. As a response to enable their great potential in a sustainable and non-conflicting manner, it puts forward three paths for addressing these challenges by big scientific collaboration. This includes a) creating a networked reality beyond traditional dynamics of national sovereignty through large technical systems, b) offering context-based legitimacy trade-offs and trade-ins for globally sustainable and acceptable governance, and c) introducing a multi-stakeholder approach as a response to the complexity and multipolarity of the contemporary space environment. In this manner, the paper builds upon the Prague Laser SpaceApps Workshop 2019 and aims to contribute to the Peaceful Use of Lasers in Space initiative as well as the discussion about space governance.