Extraterrestrial law is still an emerging legal discipline, but Rebecca Bresnik has served NASA for more than a decade in that field, most notably as lead attorney for the International Space Station (ISS). She advises on everything from United States-Russia transportation agreements to the future commercialization of the ISS.

“It has been incredible to be at the forefront of this area of the law,” says Bresnik CLAW’99, who emphasizes that even though America “has always been a leader in space exploration and should continue to be,” she sees her work as being cooperative in nature. It draws on many antecedents, from contract and commercial law to a variety of treaties, allowing NASA to “forge ahead via international coalitions and partnerships.”

An example of that cooperative spirit is the planned lunar-orbit outpost called Gateway. “I am advising on Gateway as we begin discussions with our commercial and global partners,” says Bresnik. Gateway will be “an international U.S.-led program” that helps “facilitate new exploration of the moon and ultimately human missions to Mars.”

Asked if she has any interest in traveling into space herself, Bresnik jokes that it might offer “an amazing date night” with her husband, astronaut Randy Bresnik. On a serious note, she envisions a day when “traveling to space is as commonplace as taking a vacation, and everyone will be able to see the amazing beauty of Earth.”

When that day comes, it will be due in no small part to her professional achievements.