• President Lyndon B. Johnson and USSR Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin shaking hands at the Signing Ceremony for the Outer Space Treaty, January 27, 1967. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

    More info
    Select an item:
    Lyndon B. Johnson and USSR Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin Shake Hands
    • Date
    • 1967
    • Rights
    • Courtesy of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum.

  • Second session of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, United Nations Headquarters, New York (in the first row, from left to right): Ambassador T. P. Plimpton (United States of America), speaking; Miss. J.A.C. Gutteridge (United Kingdom); Mr. El Sayed Raouf El Reedy (United Arab Republic); and Ambassador Platon Morozov (USSR). September 10, 1962. Courtesy of the United Nations.

    More info
    Select an item:
    Creating the Foundations for Peace in Outer Space
    • Date
    • 1958
    • Creator
    • United Nations
    • Description
    • In 1958, shortly after the launching of the first artificial satellite, the General Assembly in resolution 1348 (XIII) established an ad hoc Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), composed of 18 members, to consider the activities an... more
      In 1958, shortly after the launching of the first artificial satellite, the General Assembly in resolution 1348 (XIII) established an ad hoc Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), composed of 18 members, to consider the activities and resources of the United Nations, the specialized agencies and other international bodies relating to the peaceful uses of outer space, organizational arrangements to facilitate international cooperation in this field within the framework of the United Nations and legal problems which might arise in programmes to explore outer space. less

  • One of the original copies of the Antarctic Treaty. The twelve nations that signed the Antarctic Treaty in December 1959 were Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the USSR, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

    More info
    Select an item:
    1959 Antarctic Treaty
    • Date
    • 1959
    • Description
    • One of the original copies of the Antarctic Treaty. The 12 nations that signed the Antarctic Treaty on December 1959 were Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the USSR, the United Kingdom and the Uni... more
      One of the original copies of the Antarctic Treaty. The 12 nations that signed the Antarctic Treaty on December 1959 were Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the USSR, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. This picture was taken in the Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery. less
    • Rights
    • This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
    • Partner
    • National Archives of Australia

In December 1959, the Antarctic Treaty established the Antarctic as an international area that would "be used exclusively for peaceful purposes [...] with the interests of science and the progress of all mankind."  President Dwight D. Eisenhower initiated the negotiations that brought about the treaty. He believed that, like the Antarctic, outer space should also be a peaceful territory. In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly on September 22, 1960, Eisenhower called for the nations of the world to extend the principles of the Antarctic Treaty to outer space. However, his Presidential term ended shortly thereafter and John F. Kennedy was elected.

Kennedy's administration continued to push for Eisenhower's ideal of peace in outer space and supported an October 1963 UN resolution that called upon nations to refrain from introducing weapons of mass destruction into space. After Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 1963, his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, took up the cause. Under Johnson, Eisenhower's vision of a peace treaty for space was finally put into action on October 10, 1967. The Outer Space Treaty exists to this day and forms the basis for international space law. The treaty states, among other things, that no nation can lay claim to space or any celestial bodies and that any exploration of space should be done for the benefit of every country.