Milton “Skip” Smith


Colorado Springs, Colorado

Phone: 719.448.4010

Fax: 719.635.4576

[email protected]


  • 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 knowledge, understanding of the applicable regulatory and legal regimes, and aerospace industry 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. During his Air Force career, Skip held several significant leadership positions including Director of Space Law at Space Command and Chief of Space Law for the Air Force.

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

Skip is often called on for first-of-its-kind legal projects.  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 on the Space Station.  Additionally, he represents a major aerospace company in an insurance recovery litigation against 27 insurance companies stemming from a launch failure and involving unique and critical issues relating to the Commercial Space Launch Act.

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 a Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor granted by 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 numerous space-related articles and a book on the international regulation of satellite communication. Skip speaks nationally and internationally on commercial space law issues.



  • Represented an Israeli Private Astronaut who flew on the first all-commercial mission to the International Space Station in April 2022. Negotiated this first-of-its-kind contract with Axiom Space for the 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.
  • Represents a major aerospace company in insurance recovery litigation stemming from an on-pad launch failure. Handled numerous insurance defense counsel motions with outstanding success, ramping up the settlement value of the case.
  • Represented an aerospace company suffering unfair competition from the U.S. government by addressing the issues with the government agencies involved.
  • Drafts launch services agreements and on-orbit services agreements for clients, including hosted payload and rideshare agreements. Minimizing risks for clients.
  • Represented defense contractors in litigation involving the U.S. government, with values exceeding $300 million.
  • Represented a major subcontractor against the major prime contractor at the Hanford Nuclear Site, achieving a favorable multimillion-dollar settlement of 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).

Publications & Presentations






  • Doing Business with CDOT: How to Handle Disputes
    Annual Colorado Construction Law Seminar | March 4, 2022
  • 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 Public-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
  • Frequent speaker on various space law topics nationally and internationally.

Professional Activities

  • Member, International Institute of Space Law
  • Former Director, International Institute of Space Law
  • Colorado Space Coalition, Metro Denver EDC
  • Former Chair, Aerospace Law Committee, International Law Section, American Bar Association
  • Former Chair, Colorado Space Business Roundtable
  • Board, Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum


  • Who’s Who Legal, Space and Satellite Law (2021)
  • International Institute of Space Law, Lifetime Achievement Award (2016)
  • Best Lawyers in America, Construction Law (2024), Litigation: Construction (2024)