Time to Boldly Go Once More

Posted: July 16, 2009 in Manned Space, Space Exploration, space science, U.S. National Space Policy

Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin makes an emotional plea for U.S. space leadership with a goal of establishing an American colony on Mars.

The major shortfall in his plea is why we should do this. While Aldrin uses traditional space advocate language like “galvanize public support,” “inspire America’s young students,” and “renew our space industry,” that agreement is as vacuous as the self-licking ice cream cone. If he said “to make life on earth better for Americans by providing revolutionary improvements in energy” (for example) it would be quite a bit easier to get behind.

Additionally, the Outer Space Treaty appears unsupportive of an American colony on Mars, as it says “outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.” Is an American colony on Mars “use or occupation”?

A better offer would be to create a new Outer Space Treaty which would allow for the creation of property rights and sovereignty claims in order to incentivize private citizens, industry, and consortiums to explore space for a purpose other than…exploring it.

Finally, as with many of his era, Mr. Aldrin proposes we explore space as part of an international coalition and for the benefit of all mankind. That is little more than code for U.S. taxpayers providing for free-riders to benefit from space. China holds about $2 trillion in U.S. currency–if they want to play, let ’em pay.

I think Mr. Aldrin perhaps stands a little too close to the issue.
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