General Counsel, New Mexico Spaceport Authority (Spaceport America)
Melissa Force is a space lawyer who, as a component of her Adv. LLM space law studies at the International Institute of Air and Space Law at Leiden University (Netherlands), worked at NOAA’s Office of Space Commercialization (now Space Commerce) developing commercial space transportation policy. Prior to joining Spaceport America as its general counsel, she taught Aviation and Space Law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and International Law and Politics of Outer Space at Webster University. She is an elected member of the International Institute of Space Law and Co-Chair of its International Space Law Moot Court Committee.
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 and presented papers on an array of topics, including space traffic management, space debris, extraterrestrial resource extraction, suborbital spaceflight and arbitration of space disputes.
Prior to obtaining her degree in space law, Ms. Force was the Vice President and Associate General Counsel heading international and domestic claims for HOK, Inc. and a litigation partner in the Los Angeles office of Carroll, Burdick & McDonough LLP. She grew up in Missouri and earned two degrees from the University of Missouri – Columbia (BS in Chemical Engineering and JD in Law.)