Air University Schriever Space Scholars earn slot at moot court world competition

  • Published
  • By Billy Blankenship
  • Air University Public Affairs

A team representing the Schriever Space Scholars recently won the North American round of the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition.

With the win, the team of Air Command and Staff College students will represent North America in the world finals at the 74th International Astronautical Congress in Baku, Azerbaijan, in October.

The competition simulates arbitration proceedings to the International Court of Justice, which includes participants researching and litigating key legal issues.

The team is comprised of Space Force Guardians Maj. Joey Aguilo, Maj. Alexa Eggert and Maj. Ashley Gonzales. The team coach and mentor is Dr. Andrea Harrington, dean of space education at Air University.

"Our success can be attributed in no small part to Dr. Harrington’s international space law course on understanding the fundamental legal principles of operating in space,” said Maj. Ashley Gonzales, one of the team members. “An understanding of the evolving field of space law is vital for United State Space Force leaders because space operations are inherently global. We, as space acquisition officers, must therefore understand the international law implications of building and operating space systems in this evolving domain. We look forward to representing Schriever Space Scholars and all the talented law students from North America at the International Finals!"

This year's competition focused on the use of anti-satellite weapons and lasers in space for their fictional court cases. The group of Guardians defeated 15 other teams, most of which consisted of rising legal professionals.

“These three Guardians, with no legal training prior to ACSC, were able to best teams comprised of upper-year law students from law schools around the country. This is a significant accomplishment that reflects highly on their intellectual flexibility, dedication and ability to rise to new to challenges,” said Harrington.

The Lachs Moot Court competition covers five regions:  North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia Pacific. About 100 law schools from around the world participate in this annual event. The five regional winners participate in the world finals, which involve preliminary rounds and a final round between the top two regional winners before three judges from the International Court of Justice.

Sponsored by the Space Force, the Schriever Space Scholars concentration offers professional military education across all components of the space enterprise: military, civil and commercial. It builds on the curriculum of ACS, while incorporating space themes into each course.

“Each year our students dig deep into the critical role of space in our national security and the security of our allies and partners,” said Col. Niki Lindhorst, commander of Space Delta 13 located at AU. “This team went the extra mile to research and litigate key legal space issues and brought their unique perspective to other competitors and participants from top law schools. Connecting our students with students from civilian universities certainly will advance understanding across the space enterprise and is a win for all. I look forward to seeing how they compete at the international level.”

As part of the program, students take an elective in the fall, consisting of an independent research project in the spring and three professional development group educational trips. Some students also can develop a space wargame, attend an academic conference or compete in space law moot court like this group did.

“Air Command and Staff College, Air University and Air Education and Training Command are incredibly proud of Ashley, Alexa and Joey,” said Col. Matthew Berry, ACSC commandant. “They have been able to take what they’ve learned this year and garner intellectual success and accolades at the international level on a topic critical to international security concerns. Our team not only won the North American region, but they took first place in two categories against 15 of the top law schools in the region without any lawyers on their team. Their performance is a real testament to the quality of these officers, their hard work and their mentor Dr. Andrea Harrington. We are thrilled they will represent ACSC and the Shriever Space Scholars at the world competition in Azerbaijan.”