Milton “Skip” Smith


Colorado Springs, Colorado

Phone: 719.448.4010

Fax: 719.635.4576


  • Doctorate, Institute of Air and Space Law, McGill University, 1989
  • LL.M., Institute of Air and Space Law, McGill University, 1984
  • Juris Doctor, George Washington University, 1976
  • Bachelor of Science, U.S. Air Force Academy, 1973

Drawing on his experience as an Air Force Academy graduate with a doctorate in space law, Milton "Skip" Smith has spent more than 40 years advising clients on risk management and other legal issues related to the aerospace industry.

His unique background and skillset make him regularly sought after for his deep industry knowledge, understanding of the applicable regulatory and legal regimes, and aerospace insight and experience. He represents clients in nearly every segment of the aerospace industry, from large companies to startup ventures and from manufacturers to launch service providers.

He helps national and international clients address legal matters ranging from the planning, purchasing, and operation of space assets to launch services and space insurance, government contract issues, regulatory issues, and other matters. Skip has also negotiated deals and litigated disputes with dollar values in the hundreds of millions.

Recently, he represented one of the three private astronauts on the first all-commercial mission to the International Space Station. As part of that representation, Skip helped negotiate an agreement for the first NFT to be minted in space.

Additionally, Skip represents a major aerospace company in insurance recovery litigation against 27 insurance companies stemming from a launch failure.

He has considerable alternative dispute resolution experience and was selected by the American Arbitration Association as one of 26 members of its Aerospace, Aviation, and National Security Panel.

Skip served in Geneva as the legal adviser of the 50-person U.S. Delegation at the ITU Conference on the Geostationary Satellite Orbit. He helped establish and is a past chair of the Colorado Space Business Roundtable. Skip served for many years on the board of the International Institute of Space Law and has taught space law as an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado Law School, the George Washington University Law School, and the University of Denver Law School.

Regarded as a leader in the field, Skip has received numerous honors, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Institute of Space Law. He was selected to author the United States chapter in the inaugural edition of the “Space Law Review,” a series published by The Law Reviews. In 2021, Skip was selected by his peers for inclusion in the Who’s Who Legal section for Space & Satellite Law as one of only fourteen lawyers in the U.S.  He is the author of six space-related law review articles and a book on the international regulation of satellite communication. Skip speaks nationally and internationally on commercial space law issues.


In the construction law arena, Skip represents general contractors, subcontractors, and owners, negotiating, advising on, and enforcing contracts; providing counsel regarding large-scale infrastructure projects; and resolving disputes in and out of court. Skip often represents construction clients in disputes with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and obtained the largest award ever against CDOT in a hotly contested five-week arbitration.

Repeatedly recognized by “Best Lawyers in America” in the field of construction law, Skip frequently speaks, writes, and advises on construction law issues.



  • Represented an Israeli Private Astronaut who will fly on the first all-commercial mission to the International Space Station in early 2022. Negotiated this first-of-its-kind contract with Axiom Space for the ten-day mission to the ISS aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. This contract involved complex issues of U.S. and international space law and the evaluation of unique risks and risk-management measures.
  • Represented a major aerospace company in insurance recovery litigation stemming from an on-pad launch failure. Handled numerous insurance defense counsel motions with outstanding success, which ramped up the settlement value of the case.
  • Represented major aerospace company suffering unfair competition from the U.S. government in addressing the issues with the government agencies involved.
  • Drafted launch services agreements for clients, including hosted payload and rideshare agreements. Minimized risks for clients.
  • Represented defense contractors in litigation involving the U.S. government, with values exceeding $300 million.
  • Represented a steel fireproofing subcontractor against its major prime contractor at the Hanford Nuclear Site, achieving a favorable settlement of multimillion-dollar claims.
  • Litigated major multidistrict cases for the Air Force, including asbestos, Agent Orange, and aviation accident cases, and international arbitration for the Department of State (Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal).



  • Represented construction clients in disputes with CDOT and obtained the largest award ever against CDOT in a hotly contested five-week arbitration. Successfully asserted more than 20 claims on behalf of contractors and subcontractors on CDOT highway projects.
  • Represented a general contractor joint venture in negotiation of a dam construction contract valued in excess of $400 million.
  • Represented the owner against design and contractor parties in a five-star hotel construction litigation; negotiated multimillion-dollar settlement in mediation involving five parties, multiple insurance carriers, and excess carriers.
  • Obtained a $6.5 million arbitration award for a general contractor in five-week arbitration regarding differing site conditions and other changes experienced during highway tunnel construction.
  • Achieved a $2.2 million arbitration award, including an award of attorneys’ fees, on behalf of subcontractor in a three-week arbitration of multiple claims experienced during a highway-widening project on a mountain pass.
  • Successfully prosecuted claims against the U.S. government in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and before boards of contract appeals.

Publications & Presentations






  • The Intersection of the Space Industry and Government Contracts
    ABA Annual Meeting | August 2019
  • Government Missions and the Private Sector: A Legal Roundtable
    The 35th Annual Space Symposium | April 2019
  • Using Private Partnerships to Finance Very Large Space Projects
    The 69th Annual International Astronautical Congress, Germany | October 2018
  • The Outer Space Treaty and Colorado Space Business
    Secure World Foundation and Sherman & Howard Space Law Presentation | May 2017
  • What You Need to Know About Space Law, Commercial Space Activities, and Small Satellites
    Space Law Seminar | November 2016
  • Construction Delays
    Annual Colorado Springs Construction Law Seminar | November 2016
  • Dispute Resolution Boards – Obtaining the Best Result
    Annual Colorado Construction Law Seminar | February 2016
  • How to Settle a Construction Case
    Annual Construction Webinar | October 2015
  • Frequent speaker on various construction and space law topics nationally and internationally.

Professional Activities

  • Director, International Institute of Space Law (IISL)
  • American Bar Association
    • Litigation Section
    • Construction Committee
  • Colorado Space Coalition, Metro Denver EDC
  • Adjunct Professor, University of Denver, Commercial Space Law
  • Former Chair, Aerospace Law Committee, International Law Section, American Bar Association
  • Former Chair, Colorado Space Business Roundtable


  • Who’s Who Legal, Space and Satellite Law, International (2021)
  • International Institute of Space Law, Lifetime Achievement Award (2016)
  • Best Lawyers in America, Colorado Springs
    • Construction Law (2019, 2023)
    • Litigation – Construction (2013-2023)