In February 2022, the Adam Smith Institute published a report claiming that the Moon should be privatized to help wipe out poverty on Earth. According to the report, the Moon should be divided into parcels of land and assigned to various countries to rent out to businesses, which would boost space tourism, exploration, and discovery.
For now, thankfully, there is a treaty that stands in the way of such plans. The Outer Space Treaty was drawn up by the United Nations in 1967 with the idea to ban countries and individuals from owning property in space. It also forbids the militarization of outer space and bans weapons testing and military bases there.
The Adam Smith Institute maintains, however, that “with more countries and companies competing in the space race than ever before it’s vital for us to move past the outdated thinking of the 1960s and tackle the question of extraterrestrial property rights sooner than later.”
To some extent, this view is already a reality. In 2020, NASA launched an effort to allow companies to mine resources, announcing it would support private extraction of resources from the Moon.
“That is one small step for space resources, but a giant leap for policy and precedent,” said Mike Gold, NASA’s former chief of international relations, summing up the new frontier of capitalism. In the meantime, similar legislation allowing privatization of extraterrestrial resources is being introduced in Luxembourg, India, China, Japan, and Russia.
Also in 2020, NASA changed its policy to allow private astronauts to go on the International Space Station. In April 2022, the first all-private team of astronauts began a weeklong mission hailed as a “milestone in commercial spaceflight.” Similarly, Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin have been launching their own private flights to space.
In short, the commercialization and privatization of space is accelerating. Space tourism, asteroid mining, and internet from satellites space are no longer science fiction. They have become a potential source for “future growth” and “progress.” [Continue reading…]