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PhD candidate, law and military uses of outer space, University of Adelaide

Duncan Blake transferred from the permanent Air Force to the Reserves in January 2017, after 22 years as a Legal Officer in the Royal Australian Air Force. He worked at the tactical, operational and strategic levels at home and on deployment overseas.

Duncan recently returned from the Middle East where he was providing legal support to aerial targeting operations in Iraq and Syria. He has worked with strike and fighter jet forces and units responsible for airspace surveillance. He has also been a prosecutor for the military.

He served as the Deputy Director of Operations and International Law for the Australian Department of Defence, providing operations and international law advice and support at the highest levels within Defence and across government.

More recently, Duncan was legal advisor to the Defence Space Coordinating Office and he chaired inter-departmental and international working groups in respect of strategic space law. His last posting, before transferring out of the permanent Air Force, was in a non-legal position, managing the development of a future joint operations concept for military use of outer space, to coordinate capability development and force structure decisions in the Australian Defence Force.

Wing Commander Duncan Blake continues to contribute as a Reserve legal officer, providing backfill and supplementation in a directorate that advises government on the potential military role in existing and prospective contingencies. He also supports the Military Law Centre / Asia Pacific Centre for Military Law in various courses and other tasks of the centres.

Duncan has contributed extensively to doctrine and policy for the Australian Department of Defence and whole-of-government, on issues of operations law and space law. Although this work is not publicly accessible, he has authored numerous articles, including an article for which he was awarded the 2011 Lieber Society Military Prize by the American Society of International Law.

He has undergraduate degrees in Law and Economics from the University of Western Australia, a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from the University of Melbourne and an LLM from McGill University. He is also a graduate of Australian Command and Staff College. His thesis topic for his LLM at McGill University was on the need for a ‘Manual on International Law Applicable to Warfare in Space’.

Duncan is currently Managing Editor for a project to draft the Woomera Manual on international law applicable to military space activities, helping to lead a group of international experts to draft such a manual, aiming for publication in 2020. He is also undertaking doctoral research at The University of Adelaide on a topic associated with the Project.

Duncan is also the Project Manager for the ANGELS Project, which is a project with students from the University of Adelaide to develop a website to help Australian space entrepreneurs to navigate the legal and regulatory framework applicable to their space activities (‘Australian Navigational Guide Explaining Laws for Space’). He is also Chair of the Australia New Zealand Space Law Interest Group (ANZSLIG) and he is a member of the Advisory Council to the Space Industry Association of Australia.

Duncan also consults on law and strategy for space services for International Aerospace Law & Policy Group.


  • –present
    PhD candidate, law and military uses of outer space, University of Adelaide
  • 2011–present
    Managing Editor, Woomera Manual on international law applicable to military space activities
  • 1995–2017
    Legal Officer, Royal Australian Air Force


    University of Adelaide, PhD candidate (Joyner Scholar)
  • 2014 
    McGill University, Montreal, Master of Laws
  • 2007 
    Australian Command and Staff College, Command and Staff Course
  • 2005 
    University of Melbourne, Master of Laws
  • 1997 
    University of Western Australia, Bachelor of Laws
  • 1997 
    University of Western Australia, Bachelor of Economics

Professional Memberships

  • Chair, Australia New Zealand Space Law Interest Group
  • Member Advisory Council, Space Industry Association of Australia