Renewed space rivalry between nations ignores a tradition of cooperatio

Publication Type: 
Other Writing
Publication Date: 
January 10, 2019

The annals of science fiction are full of visions of the future. Some are techno-utopian like “Star Trek” in which humanity has joined together in peace to explore the cosmos. Others are dystopian, like the World State in “Brave New World.” But many of these stories share one thing in common – they envision a time in which humanity has moved past narrow ideas of tribe and nationalism. That assumption might be wrong.

This can be seen in Trump’s calls for a unified U.S. Space Command. Or, in China’s expansive view of sovereignty and increasingly active space program as seen in its recent lunar landing. These examples suggest that the notion of outer space as a final frontier free from national appropriation is questionable. Active debate is ongoing as of this writing as to the consistency of the 2015 Space Act with international space law, which permitted private firms to own natural resources mined from asteroids. Some factions in Congress would like to go further still with one bill, the American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act. This states, “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, outer space shall not be considered a global commons.” This trend, especially among the space powers, is important since it not only will create precedents that could resonate for decades to come, but also because it hinders our ability to address common challenges – like removing the debris orbiting the planet.

Read the full piece at The Conversation