Spaceport America welcomes new ‘Space Lawyer’
Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport located in southern New Mexico in the USA, introduces Melissa Kemper Force, as the new Spaceport America General Counsel.
Prior to her appointment as general counsel by the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, Ms. Force was the principal partner of a successful consulting firm in Los Angeles, California where she provided legal advice on complex international policy and legal issues to clients in the commercial aerospace industry. While in Los Angeles, she taught courses on Aviation and Space Law as an adjunct professor at Loyola Law School. Additionally, at Webster University she was an adjunct professor where she taught International Law and Politics of Outer Space and Space Systems Law and Policy courses. She is an elected member of the International Institute of Space Law (IISL) and Co-Chair of its Manfred Lachs International Space Law Moot Court Committee, which oversees regional moot court competitions in Europe, Africa, Asia and North America. The committee organizes and conducts international finals every year during the International Astronautical Congress.
“Spaceport America is extremely fortunate to have Ms. Force as our new General Counsel. Melissa brings tremendous corporate experience coupled with International Space Law,” said Daniels Hicks, Chief Executive Officer, Spaceport America.
Ms. Force holds an Advanced LLM degree from the International Institute of Air and Space Law at Leiden University (the Netherlands). She has served as moderator and panelist for the Air Law Institute’s Air and Space Law Symposium and the American Bar Association’s Forum on Air & Space Law and has authored, published and presented papers in Europe, Africa, Asia and North America on a wide array of issues. These included space traffic management, space debris, extraterrestrial resource extraction, the Moon Agreement, suborbital spaceflight and rules for the arbitration of space disputes in fora as diverse as the IISL Annual Colloquium, at the IAASS Space Safety Conference, the Canadian Space Commerce Association National Conference, the International Space Development Conference and the Global Space Exploration Conference.
After obtaining her advanced degree in space law, Ms. Force worked in the Office of Space Commerce in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), assisting in the development of the commercial space transportation policy and representing NOAA at U.S. delegation meeting in preparation for sessions on the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems. Her current position as general counsel draws heavily on previous experience as the Vice President and Associate General Counsel heading international and domestic claims for HOK, Inc. and her trial court experiences as a partner in the Los Angeles office of Carroll, Burdick & McDonough LLP litigating products liability, environmental and construction defect disputes.
“As a space lawyer, I am privileged to have the opportunity to work with my peers in the aerospace industry to help shape legal framework as we commercialize space,” said Melissa Kemper Force, General Counsel, Spaceport America.
In addition to her advanced degree in Air and Space Law, Ms. Force graduated from the University of Missouri – Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Missouri – Columbia School of Law, where she was elected to the board of editors of the Missouri Law Review.