Saturday, December 6, 2014

Transportation Is Not Included


If the costs of getting to space lessen making it possible to get into space and colonize other planets, could it be such a bad thing? And who’s going to regulate that? It’s a long way from home and lets not forget history when England tried to control 13 little American colonies just a few thousand miles away, much less a few million. The Outer Space Treaty from 1967 that was signed by 100 countries that bars anyone from laying claim to the moon and other planets has no mention of personal ownership. This is only a loophole that might as well be a black hole.            
            Space X and other commercial space flight companies like Virgin Galactic are already challenging the idea that only governments will be solely responsible for outer space settlements. According to Elon Musk of Space X it’s only the matter of when not who before government and private enterprise join forces to get a space colony started. Although the cost would be high in the beginning he says if private companies have the freedom to participate it would drive prices down and start regular flights to Mars. Space X has already contracted with the government to supply the cargo to and from the International Space Station and it’s not long before private companies like his will handle the cargo portion of the job and will someday carry the astronauts too. If we took this one step further, where individual and private companies owned property on other planets like Mars what would happen? According to the experts like Elon Musk, the money and the technology would still come from private individuals or companies like Space X.
            In 2012 a journalist named Teresa Anjou wrote an article for the Miami Herald called, “Can You Own Land in Outer Space?” Her conclusion thoroughly supports Elon Musk’s idea that if private companies financed permanent settlements on the Moon and Mars it would drive down the cost of space flight and space tourism could grow into a money making venture. For instance, there is a blog by Red Planet reality claiming they can sell you a one square mile parcel of land on Mars for $29.99 but the transportation is not included. This is obviously just a scam but it does present a real possibility. Take for instance an advertisement called “Everybody’s Going To Be A Space Pioneer.” In the ad, we see an astronaut floating in space and it asks for five easy payments of $99,999.99 to get to a pioneer city on Mars, which is the sum Elon Musk is already seriously talking about charging someday.
            Seems as if everything is pointing to individual resources and risk taking entrepreneurs, and the opposing claim that only nations can control, buy or participate for outer planets or other heavenly bodies is already lost in Moon dust. Commercial companies are paving our way to the planets, not owned by governments. Even Nasa considers itself a commercial entity now. Since 2011 when the space shuttle fleet was retired, NASA had to rely on other countries namely Russia to send cargo and astronauts to the space station and back.
            A long as there’s people who are willing to pay, and people like Elon Musk waiting to sell, it seems there is no other answer than individual involvement along with government that fits into space from now on, but fasten your seatbelt, it’s going to be a rough ride.