Thursday, December 21, 2006

Property Rights on The Moon

The private space market

NASA's competitors, after years of flailing around by the goverment agency, are starting to pick-up with all the new internet (and other) wealth. Richard Branson of Island Records (and then of course Virgin Records, airlines, cola, etc and now Virgin Galactic), Robert Bigelow, a hotel millionaire, Amazon-founder Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk of PayPal all are planning private space travel, space hotels and whatnot.

The thing is is that they can't quite get to orbital level (sub-orbital flights - about 60 miles above sea-level - will be available in 2 years for around $200,000 per trip) because of 'regulation' and they too want to go to and build things on the moon, but lunar property rights are unclear. When the Earth was 'civilized' (colonialized) it was the nation-states who planted the flags and killed the natives, and well, I guess the same is true of the moon (the flag part anyway), so I guess these brilliant and wealthy people need to workout the rights first.

Richard Branson is also building a spaceport in New Mexico, near where the nuclear bomb was first tested, and not far either from the site of the 1947 Roswell Incident. Roswell is also where Robert H. Goddard developed the first modern rockets. Goddard's ideas were reverse-engineered by Nazi scientists using large amounts of German resources - these scientists then came to the US after WWII to help develop the US space program.