March 25, 2019

The Space Race May Turn into a Land Grab

“The new space race is under way, but unlike the original two-state heat of the 1960s, today’s space race is a veritable tournament, with Europe, India, China and Japan competing with Russia and the US to colonise pieces of our extraterrestrial world for profit. Add to them an increasing number of private space ventures, and space is starting to look like a potential Wild West.

Space opened for business in 2015, when the US passed the SPACE Act, which allows entities to “possess, own, transport, use, and sell” any “space resource obtained” – notably excluding any potential living resources. Now, given the number of planned private missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond, disputes are practically inevitable. Companies such as Astrobotic and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin in the US, PTScientists in Berlin and iSpace in Japan have imminent lunar missions launching as soon as next year, planning to set up lunar communications and infrastructures.

Governmental partnerships with these private companies, such as Nasa’s long reliance on Blue Origin and SpaceX to shuttle cargo to the ISS, only complicate matters further. The public/private partnerships have been great for extraterrestrial entrepreneurship and national budgets, but have increasingly made states dependent on private companies to get to space, potentially setting private interests against national or international goals.”

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