Thursday, February 05, 2015

What the Hey? Why?

So the FAA has given permission for companies to explore commercial opportunities on the moon. Since when does the moon belong to any government agency. Someone doesn't understand the tides of history. You get their first, you get it. If you can hold it. You can keep it.

Otherwise, step aside!

This all because the FAA gave the thumbs up to the Bigelow Aerospace initiative. A drive by private firms to set up a lunar module for habitat and business related activities.

The Moon Wars are coming.


Dan said...

Hmmm... interesting questions there.

De jure, the Outer Space Treaty prevents any government from claiming the moon. That being said, the FAA does regulate all aircraft operated in the US. I don't know if that includes payloads launched on rockets or not. I do recall that Scaled Composites had to get permission from the FAA to operate their sub-orbital flights. I don't know if, e.g., SpaceX had to get permission to launch their Falcon rockets as well. The federal government may also be claiming jurisdiction as, again under the Outer Space Treaty, nations retain jurisdiction and control over the stuff they put into space. As a US based company, Bigelow Areospace's proposed moon installations may then be under US jurisdiction.

Or Bieglow may just be covering their butts by pre-emptively asking permission? The quote in the article reference a principal of "non-interference for private sector operations." Their investors probably wanted to make sure the government wasn't going to interfere with their operation before sinking more cash into the concept.

The quote from the letter about the regulatory framework being "'ill-equipped' to enable the U.S. Government to fulfill its obligations....with respect to private sector activities" seems to imply that the legalities here are still vague.

As you imply, however, de facto, none of this has ever really been challenged. We haven't been back to the moon in 40 years, and no one has taken serious steps toward a commercial installation there. In the real world, when push comes to shove, treaties get ignored, challenged, changed or superseded all the time. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out, especially with China now making a push to the Moon as well.

Troll Lord said...

Well hells bells I had no idea. Great analysis.

I guess somewhere around in my noodle pan is some memory of the Outer Space Treaty, but that's about it.

But as you say, at the end of the day, whoever can get there first will own it. Of course, getting back with anything of value can be just as challenging.