A student at the University of Mississippi will leap into the final frontier of the legal system Saturday when he receives the first-ever space law certificate in the United States.

Michael Dodge of Long Beach, Miss., earned the special distinction along with his law degree through the National Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law at the university?s law school.

?The professors and personnel here are the highest quality that can be found anywhere in the world, and I have learned from them the necessary skills I will need to effectively practice space law,? Dodge said in a statement. ?Ole Miss is, simply put, the space law expert, and anyone wishing practice in this field should get their legal education here.?

Any future space lawyer might have to deal with issues ranging from the fallout over satellite shoot-downs to legal disputes between astronauts onboard the International Space Station. The expanding privatization of the space sector may also pose new legal challenges.

Dodge's interest in space law grew from an early fascination with space exploration that was based mostly on science and history.

?Once I came to the law school, I read that there was an attorney here that specialized in space law,? Dodge said. ?After that, I became curious as to why space needed regulation, and how legal regimes could be constructed to govern such an expanse."

That led to a meeting with Joanne Gabrynowicz, director of the University of Mississippi's space law center.

?Students in this program have unparalleled opportunities to participate in the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court competition, the Journal of Space Law, center conferences and events, and internships that strengthen their future employment options,? Gabrynowicz said.

The university offers the only dedicated aerospace law curriculum in the nation from an American Bar Association-accredited law school, and requires courses on U.S. space and aviation law, international space and aviation law, and remote sensing; participation in the publication of the Journal of Space Law; and independent research. The National Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law was founding in 1999.

?We are particularly proud to be offering these space law certificates for the first time, since ours is the only program of its kind in the U.S. and only one of two in North America," said Samuel Davis, law dean at the University of Mississippi.