Michelle Hanlon Named Space Activist of the Year by National Space Society

Michelle Hanlon, Executive Director of the Center for Air and Space Law and Assistant Professor of Practice at the University of Mississippi School of Law, has been awarded the 2023 Chris Pancratz Space Activist of the Year Award from the National Space Society.

“There are so many passionate advocates for space, I am truly humbled and honored to be the one selected this year to receive the award,” said Hanlon. “I will hold it up to students as proof that even one single voice can make a substantive difference especially in the quickly evolving realm of space law.”

A former President of NSS, Hanlon is recognized around the world as a  leading expert on space law. Additionally, she is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Space Law, the oldest Journal in the world devoted to analyzing the legal problems arising out of human activities in space, and the Journal of Drone Law and Policy, the first of its kind.

In addition to her roles at Ole Miss Law, she is also Co-Founder and President of For All Moonkind, Inc., a nonprofit corporation that is the only organization in the world focused on obtaining international legal recognition for and protection of human cultural heritage in outer space.

Hanlon was instrumental in the development of the One Small Step Act in the United States, the first national legislation to acknowledge the existence of human heritage in outer space.  For All Moonkind has been recognized by the United Nations as a Permanent Observer to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, and Hanlon contributes regularly to the international discourse on space law through the Committee. Most recently, she urged the United Nations to recognize and adopt temporary heritage protection zones around certain sites on the Moon as part of a legal framework for space resource utilization. Under Hanlon’s leadership, more than 100 space law and heritage law experts from every inhabited continent contribute their valuable time and experience to advance For All Moonkind’s important mission. Last March Hanlon announced the formation of For All Moonkind’s Institute on Space Law and Ethics bringing together thought leaders in the space industry with the mission to develop an accepted ethical foundation for all space activity.

Hanlon’s research and advocacy centers upon the concept of “due regard” in space law and evolving the framework necessary to assure that human exploration of space is responsible, successful and sustainable. In this regard she has done considerable work and written and presented extensively on topics related to orbital debris remediation, space solar power, small satellite constellations, environmental considerations and the protection of human heritage in space.

Hanlon is an advisor to The Hague Institute for Global Justice Off-World Approach project. She also serves on the Advisory Committees of a number of space-related start-up organizations.

Michelle received her B.A. in Political Science from Yale College and her J.D. magna cum laude from the Georgetown University Law Center. She earned her LL.M in Air and Space Law from McGill University where the focus of her research was commercial space and the intersection of commerce and public law.