Thursday, October 6, 2016

Planetary Law


It almost feels as if we are five hundred years in the future, a multi-planet species. But think logically – best we iron out these details soon but better be smart about it! There is actually one suggestion that said the new Martian, or new Loonites (For the Moon, no?) that considered that perhaps the distant inhabitants should pay taxes to the Earth. ARE YOU KIDDING??!! Are you going to go up there and pave their roads? Seems to me they wouldn’t be getting any of the services….



Elon Musk believes that perhaps self-governance would be best and

Ram S. Jakhu, a professor at McGills University’s Cetre for Research of Air & Soace Law in Montreal, suggests that their survival of the alien planet will determine the kind of governance which sounds as if it hints at the self-governance, but  self-governance can be slow moving with decisions; Perhaps a format that allows for representatives for the various groups, however that might be determined.


One of the many formats for a constitution (yes, they have actually written a constitution for Mars here on Earth) declares that breathing should be considered a basic right. (un-alien-able?) Of course the international community made several other treaties regarding space before we were even in space – or in space much.

The five international treaties which have been negotiated or drafted in the COPUOS :

     The 1967 Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (the "Outer Space Treaty").

     The 1968 Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space (the "Rescue Agreement").

     The 1972 Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects (the "Liability Convention").

     The 1975 Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space (the "Registration Convention").

     The 1979 Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (the "Moon Treaty").


I’m not going to go into the treaties that define geostationary items or other types of specifics, instead will just bring to light what I feel is relevant (the data above is if you wish to research further).


Right now internationally the thought is moving toward what might happen when commercial space transportation becomes a reality. What it will mean is that all countries will have access to space & with that, all the benefits &/or resources that might exploited. Some feel that space should be considered a pristine environment and hence protected & conserved. Still others feel that yes it’s resources should be used but only from & for space. (Part of ISRU – In Situ Resource Utilization); Although with the helium reserves on the Moon alone worth in the neighborhood of 13.6 Quadrillion, you know people are going to get at that resource!


Right now it is the law of the land (so to speak) that no one country can claim the Moon or Mars. (Think back to the "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Quote) But there is a loophole, there is no law that clearly states a person or company cannot. Some think that perhaps the legal definition should be altered to allow private space. I tend to agree. But agree only in that a country could claim an area of land to develop, not claim the entire planet. Maybe a good idea is to have it written into the law to allow the land to expand based on population growth.


When one considers setting up space law, one has to then wonder who is going to enforce it and how. Consider SpaceX or Mars One or some other commercial or independent enterprise is up there on Mars first. Who are we, 140 million miles away to try and enforce laws that we thought up without ever having been there?


I do agree with Jacob Haqq-Misra, research scientist from Blue Marble Space Institute of Science, a Seattle-based think-tank, who says that Mars should be defined “as a new planet and not as an extension of Earth’s civilization.”


It is an interesting thought. And this certainly is one area of law where I do no envy the practitioners.



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