Moon Express, a contestant in Google’s Lunar X contest, has gotten the go ahead from the FAA and NASA. This will be the first privately owned craft leaving earths orbit!
The company Moon Express, co-founded by Naveen Jain (Former CEO of Intellius), has it’s sights on the moon and has gotten the green light from NASA and the FAA for it’s 2017 mission to the moon. When it lands it’s little craft, it will win $30 million from Google’s Lunar X, but they’ve got much bigger goals for their project.
Moon Express wants to mine natural resources from the Moon, and who knows where else from there. It opens a whole new frontier of private space exploration, mining, and even tourism. This is an unprecedented move for humanity leaving our planet and staking it’s claim on the rest of the solar system and one day beyond.
Things to Consider
There are no guidelines currently or any federal regulations that extend past Earth’s Orbit. The 1967 Outer Space Treaty simply states that space is free to explore, no country can claim sovereignty, you can’t put nukes up there, states are liable for damages caused by their space objects and we aren’t allowed to harmfully pollute other bodies. Simply put, space law is very similar to international water laws except that we don’t already have patrols and officers zooming around in space. Space therefor is about to become the new frontier where fortune, fame, and lawlessness will all be found.
Naveen Jain said this- “You do not have to own the moon or any part of it to mine it and liberate value that becomes yours. Like fishing in international waters, private companies have a right to peaceful presence and economic activity and to own the fruits for their labor and investment.” This is all true and sounds great, but when you’re liberating value and making it yours you are going to want to protect that value. When more and more companies, organizations and even individual entrepreneurs are up there working to stake their claim each group is going to want to protect their assets from others and there will undoubtedly be those interested in taking what isn’t theirs (for an example, see human history at any given time and place). So what are we going to end up with? Space gunslingers and pirates? Private space security companies?
This is a great moment
Don’t get me wrong, this is a great moment in human history and an important milestone for opening up space to the rest of humanity. As troublesome as privateers coming to the new world or fortune seekers in the wild west were, they were also necessary and ultimately beneficial. Sure those interim periods were chaotic, but they were exciting and laid the groundwork for what we have today. What it does point out though, is that we need to be ahead of the curve, this should serve as a wake up call to politicians and world leaders that there has to be more important decisions made about space exploration and exploitation. I’d suggest an international group being put together to govern space under a single jurisdiction, because if no country currently has jurisdiction in space then it’s anything goes and you can’t have a sheriff without law.