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Space Junk – Space, Law, and Morality (with Duncan Blake)

by Annie Handmer, Host of Space Cafe Australia

CONTENT WARNING: please be aware that this episode includes detailed discussions of wartime killing, and of targeted airstrikes in particular.

In this episode I speak to Wing Commander Duncan Blake who spent 22 years as a legal officer in the Royal Australian Air Force, most recently in the Middle East where he provided legal support to aerial targeting operations in Iraq and Syria. He served as the Deputy Director of Operations and International Law for the Australian Department of Defence, providing operations and international law advice and support at the highest levels within Defence and across government. Those of you listening might know Duncan better from his work in international space law. Duncan is currently doing a PhD in space law through Adelaide University and is a driving force behind the Woomera Manual on international law applicable to military space activities. He also teaches at UNSW Canberra. If you’d like to read more about his work, you can find more information here: and here:

The paper we refer to in the episode is ‘I am not the High Priest in a Secular Military!’ and can be accessed here:

The Steven Shapin paper on the role of experts is called ‘The Way We Trust Now: the authority of science and the character of the scientists’:

Annie Handmer; Photo courtesy of her

Annie Handmer is a PhD Candidate at the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Science, in the School of History and Philosophy of Science. She has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Philosophy, with Honours in History and Philosophy of Science, also from the University of Sydney. Annie’s research focuses on the sociology of science and scientific cooperation in extreme environments. In addition to her academic studies, she is a member of the History of Science Society, the Society for the History of Technology, the Space Generation Advisory Council, the Space Industry Association of Australia, the Australia and New Zealand Space Law Interest Group, the AYAA Aerospace Futures Committee, and is also the host and creator of the Space Junk Podcast.

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