A former Pierce City resident, now practicing law in St. Louis, has taken on a major role in forming law concerning outer space.
Melissa Kemper Force, a 1979 Pierce City High School graduate, had a class prophecy of becoming an astronaut. She obtained a chemical engineering degree and law degree from the University of Missouri in Columbia to pursue that career path. She worked as a litigation partner with a large law firm in Los Angeles, representing the interests of the United States and large multi-national companies. Force has also been an in-house corporate counsel in St. Louis.
This past summer Force was accepted into the advanced air and space law program at Leiden University in the Netherlands, one of only three master of law degree programs of its kind in the world. Force was the only American accepted for one of the 20 slots available. Albert Einstein once taught at Leiden University. Located near the Hague, home of the United Nation's International Court of Justice, the program positions Force to take a major role in the developing field of air and space law. Past graduates from the program are working in the law department at the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) and in think tanks and commercial space companies around the world.
Force was one of two Missouri women who jointly presented a paper at the 20th International Aeronautical Federation Congress, held at the end of September in Prague in the Czech Republic. Force and Dr. Edythe Weeks argued for changes in the moon treaty prior to construction. They subsequently met with representatives from political, industrial and scientific sectors at Praugue's Congress Centre in the effort to shape the future direction of space exploration.
Dr. Weeks is an adjunct faculty member and international online coordinator in the history, politics and international relations department at Webster University. She and Force have been friends and colleagues since their law school days at the University of Missouri and London University.
The Aeronautical Federation Congress focused on "Space for Human Benefit and Exploration," examining the permanent applications of space to everyday life. The promise of space exploration has compelled many new countries to initiate and promote their own space programs.
Force has herself entered the field, recognizing the broad horizon in future years in the field will be based on groundwork laid today. Force's thesis has been on space tourism. She attended a conference in Chicago where moon-walker Buzz Aldrin was present. The Chicago event provided an opportunity to meet and talk with many internationally known figures in civilian, military and technological areas of space.
Force plans a Christmas trip to southwest Missouri to be with family who still reside in the area and those who will also be making a return at that time. Her brother John and family live in Mt. Vernon. Her brother Damon and family reside in Washburn. Her mother, Mrs. Richard Champlin, lives in rural Stone County.