Oct 31 2014

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Hmmm…this author makes a strong case for a Space Pioneer Act

For remaining within the Outer Space Treaty. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know I have little use for the Outer Space Treaty (and even less for the Moon Treaty). I think it puts shackles on the US Space industry, and only the US Space industry, because no other country is even close to having to worry about it.

But the author, Wayne White, makes some reasonable proposals within the construct of the Outer Space Treaty paradigm with which I think I could live if I had to. It’s a l-o-n-g article, but certainly one of the best I’ve seen on the subject.

On why we should keep the Outer Space Treaty:

Because the Outer Space Treaty does not permit full-fledged territorial property rights, some people say that the spacefaring nations should withdraw from the Outer Space Treaty and make claims of territorial sovereignty. I believe, however, that there are many reasons why spacefaring nations should not take this course of action:

  • The United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, where the Outer Space Treaty was negotiated, operates on the basis of consensus. In light of the Committee’s past experience, I expect it will be very difficult to achieve consensus in support of any other comprehensive treaty that might replace the Outer Space Treaty.
  • Withdrawal from the Outer Space Treaty, followed by territorial claims, would almost certainly lead to strong political opposition, and I would not expect any other nations to recognize such claims.
  • The modern standard for establishing territorial sovereignty, “effective occupation,” requires national defense of territorial borders, which would be very expensive.
  • History shows that competition for territorial claims often leads to war.
  • The Outer Space Treaty has no provisions for taxation, technology transfer, and expensive governing bodies (unlike the Moon Treaty).
  • There is little in the Outer Space Treaty that is really objectionable. For the most part the treaty lets nations govern their own activities, subject to general principles that they already subscribe to.

A realistic approach to property rights, and the path of least political resistance, is to adopt a system consistent with the terms of the Outer Space Treaty.

He proposes the following laws to be included in a Space Pioneer Act:

  • Enacting a Space Mining Law analogous to the General Mining Act of 1872.
  • Homesteading Acts that do not assert jurisdiction over territory.
  • A “Law of Finds” for space salvage.

I could support this, and I sure like the Space Pioneer Act more than the current ASTEROID Act proposal.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2014/10/31/hmmm-this-author-makes-a-strong-case-for-a-space-pioneer-act/

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