Feb 15

Dr George S. Robinson (1937-2018)

George Robinson graduated from Bowdoin College, Maine in 1960 with a BS in biology and chemistry. He earned an LLB at the University of Virginia, School of Law (1963), an LLM from McGill University Graduate Faculty’s Institute of Air and Space Law (1966), and the first Doctor of Civil Laws (DCL) degree awarded by the Institute (1971).

Dr George Robinson entered federal civil service in 1964 as an attorney advisor at the Federal Aviation Agency (1964-65), later the Federal Aviation Administration of the Department of Transportation, then attended the McGill Institute (1965-66) and returned to the Department of Transportation (1966-68). In 68-69 he again attended McGill as a candidate for a doctorate. He then served as an International Relations Specialist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (1969-1970). He was the NASA desk officer for developing cooperative programs between NASA and organisations in Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Spain and Pakistan.

In 1970 George joined the Congressional Affairs staff of the Smithsonian Institution, and then was appointed Associate General Counsel, later serving as Acting General Counsel of the Smithsonian Institution. George was at the Smithsonian for 25 years.

In 1995 he left federal service and established with his two sons and a daughter-in-law the firm of Robinson Associates Law Offices, P. C., now Robinson and Robinson, LLC, a domestic and international law practice with offices in Virginia and Maryland. Among other subjects the firm addressed corporate law, matters related to corporations and non-profit organisations, education, employment, intellectual properties, collaborative research and related agreements, mergers and acquisitions, health care and space commerce.

While at the Smithsonian, George was well known for the avant-garde international conferences he organized dealing with legal issues and practical problems of doing business in space, and also for symposia he initiated dealing with legal, biological and medical aspects involved in establishment of a self-sustaining extraterrestrial settlement and its interdependence with nations and business entities underwriting and facilitating such a society.

Dr. Robinson taught and lectured in law and business of space commerce at numerous universities in the United States and abroad, including George Mason University, Oxford University, McGill University, George Washington University, and Georgetown University. He served on the Boards of Directors of various science research facilities, foundations, and hospitals. He also has consulted for the National Research Council, the Smithsonian Institution, the Department of the Interior’s Remote Sensing Data
Archives, the Maritime-Aerospace Liaison Project of the Maine Maritime Academy, the Advanced Aerospace Technology Working Group, the Space Propulsion Synergy Team, and NASA, where he served for twenty years on the Planetary Protection Subcommittee of the NASA Advisory Council.

A member of the Cosmos Club, Washington, D. C. Dr. Robinson served for five years as the Editor-in-Chief of the club’s COSMOS Journal, containing original writings by a variety of Nobel Prize Winners and Pulitzer Prize Winners who are members of the Club. He also served on the Editorial Boards of Advisors for the Journal of Space Philosophy and the Journal of Space and Evolution. Dr. Robinson hosted the Annual Eilene Galloway International Space Law Symposium at the Cosmos Club, co-sponsored by the International Institute of Space Law.

In recognition of Dr. Robinson’s unique contributions to the innovative development of domestic and international space law, McGill University has established in its Institute of Air and Space Law, the George S. and Ann K. Robinson Space Law Prize in 2014. Supported by friends and family of Dr. George S. Robinson, III, the prize is awarded to a graduating student at the Institute of Air and Space Law on the basis of a successful doctoral thesis exhibiting advanced and innovative research capabilities and constituting an original contribution to space jurisprudence.

Dr. Robinson was also a major supporter of the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition. He served on the Committee in 1992 that organized the first Space Law Moot Court. Thereafter, as the competition grew and spread around the world, he continued to support the competition by judging the North American Regional Round nearly every year. In earlier years, Dr. Robinson was a regular attendee at the IISL annual meetings and routinely wrote articles for the Proceedings.

Dr. Robinson considered himself a secular humanist. He viewed Natural Law theory, Jurisprudence, and implementing positive laws from the empirical perspective of evolutionary biology. In addition to the courses and lectures he conducted about various aspects of space law, he authored more than 100 well researched and learned articles and more than half a dozen books, some co-authored, in various topics of space law, settlements in space, a space law case-book, and migration of humanity into space. He also authored works on aviation law, science/technology law, maritime law and policies related to oceanographic and limnological research, land conservation, critical habitats, protected animal and plant species, terrestrial and oceanographic environmental law, and business law.
Among the most seminal books he wrote were Living in Outer Space (1976); Space Trek: the Endless Migration (with J. C. Glenn in 1978); Envoys of Mankind: A Declaration of First Principles for the Governance of Space Societies (with Harold M. White, Jr. and an Introduction by Gene Roddenberry in 1986); and Space Law: a Case Study for the Practitioner (with Pamela Meredith, in 1992).


George S. Robinson was born October 19, 1937 in Washington, D. C. He spent his youth in Northern Virginia, adjacent to Washington, DC. He married Ann Kellogg at the Bolling AFB Chapel, in Washington, D. C. on October 10, 1964. They had two sons, George S., IV, born July 26, 1967 in Washington, and Whitson (Whit) born May 10, 1971, also in Washington. Dr. Robinson died in Warrenton, VA on February 4, 2018.