Space the Final Frontier, or Not

Do you know anything about the United Nations Outer Space Treaty, passed in 1967? Did you know it forbids the claiming of territory beyond Earth? Even if you get there, spending billions, you cannot own the land/asteroid. Cutting off any assurance you can recover your costs or gain any reward.

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That relegates space exploration to governments and large corporations. Government has once again killed creative incentive.

Bob Zimmerman writing for the Federalist in Jumpstart Space Settlements suggests repealing the treaty and replacing it with the American Homestead Act of the 1800’s. That resulted in the rapid expansion of America into the west.

The keyword is ‘rapid’. The act provided for a return on investment. I suppose few people know that the rail line from the east to the west was incentivized by allowing the rail roads to claim two sections of land on each side of every mile of rail laid.

Land with all the possibilities of hidden wealth is an incredible incentive. The UN Treaty eliminates that incentive. So, for 50-years space exploration has remained in the hands of the governments and wealthy.

In the 1800’s moving west was thought too expensive for the poor. With the promise offered by the Homestead Act that changed. Will we do something similar with space?

4 thoughts on “Space the Final Frontier, or Not

  1. Corporate fiefdoms setting themselves up as rulers of big chunks of near space definitely is a standard trope in Science Fiction, so people seem to assume that projecting the present onto the future, that’s what we’ll end up with. It’s the milieu in which the famous series of “Alien” movies works within.
    Maybe if the US Empire could stop trying to assimilate every society on earth, it could expand into space and dole out those resources to its crony capitalist constituents. People bugging about limits on the ‘free market’ or ‘private initiative’ usually don’t take into account the kind of sociopathic monsters run these corporations.
    You have only to look at the history of English colonization of north America. Various entrepreneurial aristocrats and ‘gentlemen’ financed colonies that operated like slave labor colonies.

    • Basically yeah. But, you’d have to show me where the US is assimilating countries. Germany, France, most of Europe was rebuilt by the US and they are not US serfs/colonies. The same happens repeatedly through out the 20th century. Iraq was turned over the the Iraqis…

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