Eilene Galloway, born in 1906, worked with the Congressional Research Service of the United States Library of Congress in 1941, researching and writing House and Senate documents including "Guided Missiles in Foreign Countries" in 1957. On 29 July 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, leading to the birth of NASA. Galloway had been pivotal in helping to write the legislation, emphasizing international cooperation and peaceful exploration. She later served on nine NASA Advisory Committees. In the 1960s, she was America's representative in drafting treaties governing the exploration and uses of outer space, helping launch the field of international space law. Galloway worked for several decades with the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN-COPUOS) and was also instrumental in creating the International Institute of Space Law, which serves as the forum for legal scholars and others from around the world in studying and debating the legal issues associated with the exploration and utilisation of space.

Dr Galloway, you were influential in helping to create NASA. How did your academic speciality (politics and social sciences) turn to cover space matters?

I was employed by the Library of Congress' Legislation Reference Service, which became the Congressional Research Service, as a National Defense Analyst. Members of Congress could request assistance with military-defense problems. Later I was promoted to be Senior Specialist in International Relations (National Security). I was never a scientist but worked on all kinds of national defense matters requiring legislation. When new situations arose, I expanded my research area.

How did that involvement lead to the foundation of NASA?

When President Eisenhower sent the bill covering the creation of NASA back to Congressman McCormack, chairman of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Astronautics and Space Exploration, he asked me for my opinion. I suggested that Agency be changed to Administration and McCormack made the change. If you read the NASA law, you will see how much authority was given to NASA as an "administration" over other Congressional committees with space activities. It is much more efficient.

You almost single-handedly founded the discipline of space law through your work with UN-COPUOS and later helped set up the IISL. Why is space law important?

It is not accurate to give me so much credit for space law because many forces brought it into existence. The motive of all nations was to produce a system whereby all countries benefitted from the peaceful uses of outer space while avoiding war. So many profitable activities have developed in outer space that war has been avoided.

February 2009 saw the first collision between two satellites and the future will include the private exploitation of space. Will legislation such as the Outer Space Treaty need to be adapted for changing circumstances?

The 1967 Outer Space Treaty is not legislation but is a treaty. The Treaty can be interpreted but should not be amended for every set of new problems. We have the UN-COPUOS which is staffed and funded to take care of applying legal remedies when new issues arise.