NB: M. V. Smith is the person who led the Pentagon’s space-based solar power study which was published in October 2007. (See “Space Based Solar Power As an Opportunity for Strategic Security”, available here in pdf format.)
M. V. Smith’s comments reflect his personal opinions and are not officially endorsed by the US Government, the Department of Defense, or any associated organization.
This [AE, issue 57: “The battle for the soul of space”] is a fabulous summation of the issue. There is one common omission from the discussion.
There is a problem facing the NewSpace movement that practically no one is talking about. The problem rests in international space law. NewSpace is based on profit-driven capitalist free-markets. Unfortunately, international space law is anathema to such an economic system in space. The Outer Space Treaty lays out the overarching concepts of space being the “common heritage of mankind,” and that all spacefaring activities must be “for the benefit of all peoples.” Appearing along side these communist or socialist mantras is the forbiddance of states to claim sovereignty over any object in space. Its authors meant well, but failed to anticipate the rise of a commercial space sector. Since its inception, space law has been dominated by the arms control community and this remains the case – much to the detriment of NewSpace and the commercial development of space.
These laws had their place in the OldSpace regime where states were trying to constrain other states from dramatically increasing their power and influence through the acquisition of space resources. Unfortunately, the language in space treaties, law, and even proposed “rules of the road,” and “codes of conduct” remains focused on arms control to the degree that it essentially limits space to a place for little more than scientific exploration. In other words, it turns outer space into a museum where select humans who pass a moral litmus test are invited go, provided they “look, but don’t touch” – to paraphrase Carl Sagan and Scott Pace.
NewSpace is not about building rockets to sell to government space programmes, per se. NewSpace is about selling rockets to other space entrepreneurs who intend to expand human presence across the solar system and reap a profit through space development and resource harvesting. Space law must be developed that will enable, facilitate, and promote the commercial development of space resources. Even if companies from only one country go to space to harvest resources, it must be remembered that doing so “benefits all peoples” by making the rest of the Earth’s resources available to everyone else at a lower demanded market price. Indeed, if we can alleviate population pressure on this planet by bringing space resources to Earth and sending percentages of our population to settle in space, that is good for all life on our current planet.
I propose that a fresh body of space treaties and laws be drafted that clearly refer to all previous such instruments as applying only to state spacefaring ventures under the arms control-laden OldSpace regime. The new space law must embrace NewSpace and capitalist free-markets in space. It must provide the type of legal clarification that businesses need in order to have a predictable business environment. Legal clarification can facilitate NewSpace by removing uncertainly faced by the owning, financing, and insuring companies over issues such as: licensing, registration, liability, indemnity, jurisdiction, property/mineral/resource rights, zoning, space environmental standards, debris mitigation/removal, collision avoidance, space traffic management, inter alia. Such issues are woefully unaddressed or ambiguous in current space law because the focus has always been on arms control and constraining state behaviour. Using broad, sweeping language in such law has resulted in constraints – at least perceptually – on commercial space activities as well.
In sum, we must bifurcate space law. Current space treaties and laws need not be reopened or done away with. They simply must be identified as applying only to states’ spacefaring practices. New space law must be developed to further enable entrepreneurial activities in space as part of the profit-driven capitalist free-market NewSpace movement. There needs to be OldSpace Law and NewSpace Law.
If not, then NewSpace will ultimately fail to reach its potential, if it survives at all.
But that’s just my opinion.
Last year the concept of MiniSpaceWorld has already proven its ability to attract young people within an international audience. The MSW Design Contest 2009: Far Worlds – Best of Science Fiction, was a great beginning, with Prize Winners from the United Kingdom, Hungary and Germany, among them 15 and 17 year old pupils!
The pdf version of the following document is available here.
Lunar imaginations in Scale Model Layout: The MSW Design Contest 2010: MoonDreams
Creativity and vision of future are required for the MiniSpaceWorld Design Contest 2010: MoonDreams: how would you imagine a 150-200 square metre scale model layout surface – in 1:100 or 1:87, the H0 Standard of model railways, scale – of the fascinating world of our neighbor companion, the Moon?
The participating teams are asked to prepare their ideas about a Moon-focused exhibit hall of MSW. The themes of the design are free to choose: they can feature historical missions like the Apollo flights or the Lunokhod, imagine first permanent colonies, show a complete “Moon city” with all the necessary facilities, or present future activities like regolith processing and mining of various minerals.
Four members of our international Jury – María Catalina, David A. Dunlop, Niklas Järvstråt and William Pomerantz – shall decide about the MSW Awards, including a first prize valued at least 1,500 Euros; the MSW Community Prize will be awarded via online voting. The award ceremony will be held in Budapest.
The contest is open for participants from all over the world. Teams may be 1 to 6 people large and any participant can be in multiple teams. The language of the contest is English. Registration at the MSW-Website is necessary for participation.
Submission deadline: 30th September 2010
MiniSpaceWorld aims to create a spectacular scale model world for space flight and astronomy, using a layout scale 1:87 (H0 Scale) or similar. The MSW Worlds represent the stepping stones on our way from Earth into space. Light and sound effects, day and night simulations, historical and modern vehicles in motion, rocket starts, representation of future life scenes in the solar system will enrich the visitors’ experience. Under the motto “Space for Everybody”, MiniSpaceWorld will also explicitly feature products already used today in our everyday life that originated from space activities, offering another exciting edutainment opportunity.
MiniSpaceWorld will be a living scale model exhibit, showcasing everything from current rocket technology to basic principles of physics and astronomy, space travel as seen in science fiction and more. The famous Miniatur Wonderland in Hamburg does for model railroads what we want to do for space-themed modelers and educators. The Hamburg railroad venue has shown, by drawing over six million visitors since its opening in 2001, that high quality modeling can draw a significant audience. From model railroads to space may not be that big a leap.
The first-ever partial realization of MiniSpaceWorld with round 80 square metre layout surface is being prepared in Hungary right now. This work is in the framework of Project Futura, an innovative Science Center in Mosonmagyaróvár.
MiniSpaceWorld is a project of peregrinus interstellar.
Cell phone: Dr Tibor Pacher +49 – 171 – 62 69 530
Peregrinus Interstellar – The PI Club
Peregrinus * consulting software services
Astronautical Evolution is an e-mail forum devoted to debate and comment from an astronautical evolutionist perspective. To subscribe / unsubscribe / contribute / comment, please e-mail Stephen Ashworth, sa--at--astronist.demon.co.uk.
Back to AE home page