15 thoughts on “Will The Future Of Space…?”

  1. Space exploration & development done by multi-national corporations that operate outside the constraints of any particular terrestrial government?

    Well yes, that kinda is the vision that underlies my EML-1 entrepot depot idea and my novel.

  2. I suspect that governments will tend to make the first landings on other planets and will drive the first generation of interplanetary ships, but yes, corporations will have a major role in the future of space. See Ben Bova’s “Asteroid Wars” series of books, for example.

  3. Certainly, in the short run. Once there’s a buck to me made the companies will be well out in front of the governments.

    What’s most interesting about that, and this is something I hadn’t considered before, is that this will be an amazing test cast of capitalist anarchy. Even the East India Company had native politics to contest with. I can’t think of a case before where corporations would be able to act in a geography (solagraphy?) completely void of established governments.

  4. Do the Dutch and British East India Companies ring any bells? Corporations helped globalize the planet, and why not space, too?

  5. @ Brock

    At the moment, since people need to launch from somewhere on Earth, the jurisdiction of at least one government needs to be acknowledged.

    I advocate finding the least restrictive one possible and I note that Isle of Man currently is soliciting corporations to locate there to do space exploration.

    I like Singapore because it is far wealthier than Isle of Man.

  6. I will take it a step further and say that those corporations will be Exxon/Mobil, Shell, BP, Total, Transocean, Schlumberger and maybe some of their affiliates like Oceaneering and Lamons. These are the only companies on the planet that are already involved in resource extraction and development, familiar with work in harsh environments, and not afraid of single projects with large capital outlays – in the several billions.

  7. @Bill White,

    There will be limited jurisdiction for some things. Any company will have terrestrial assets, employees, customers, and such.

    But what I was thinking of specifically is how the space companies, and people they send there, will interract in space. Particularly once they exit Earth orbit and head for the Moon or Asteroids. The Courts in Singapore don’t have nearly the kind of leverage on Ceres that they do in the South Pacific.

    Just think:

    No building codes.

    No police.

    No utilities.

    No EPA, FCC, FDA, or even DOJ.

    No lawyers of any kind, really.

    Moreover, for the first time since some proto-Siberians wandered across the land bridge into North America, humans will be going somewhere without displacing a native population. It will be truly virgin territory, without any legacy of any kind (except the legacies the space-farers bring with them, consciously or not).

    Right now I’m not even sure what sort of questions to ask about the social significance of that, let alone guess as to answers.

  8. I was pouring over the list of 15 evilest corporations and realized that I can think of good corporations. For example, Veidt Industries of “The Watchmen” by Alan Moore, while it probably deserves its spot on the list of 15 most evil corporations, would also deserve a spot on the list of 15 most good corporations, simply because it takes moral ambiguity to the comic book extreme.

    What else? There’s Fireball Corporation from “Harvest of Stars” and “The Stars Are Also Fire” by Poul Anderson. Heinlein has several, for example, in “The Man Who Sold the Moon”, “To Sail Beyond the Sunset”, and “Waldo”. I don’t remember the names of the companies, but he has a bunch of “good” companies in his stories.

    Jack Chalker has an evil dimension spanning corporation in his G.O.D. Inc series that through the events of the series transforms into a relatively benign entity.

    In Niven and Pournelle’s “Oath of Fealty”, Todos Santos, an arcology is incorporated. The managers of that arcology happen to be the good guys of the story.

  9. I hope I live long enough to see what Bigelow gets to do with his inflatables. If anyone makes money exploiting space, it’ll be him. The ’49ers didn’t make as much money as the folks supplying them the picks and shovels, and even they didn’t make nearly as much money as the saloons.

    I wish this could have started 20 years ago…

  10. This is a pretty timely topic — I’ve been working this week to publish a Kindle ebook (now available, finally), in which small entrepreneurial corporations are the “good guys”.

    Not surprisingly, the provisional government for Mars is the “bad guy”, in large part because of its efforts to technocratically micromanage everything.

  11. Jardinero1 has it right I think. Once little guys prove it can be done, the big guys will go in for the catch (big guys are not risk takers, they don’t have to be; anything they do that looks like a risk has been analyzed to the tenth decimal.)

    Business is not evil, but business owners once established generally aren’t trying to help those they compete with. It is only the consumer that keeps them honest because there is competition. Government works against competition by supporting big business (I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine) to raise the cost of entry which reduces competition.

    What we are going to have at first are company towns. Those bring their own evil but are not evil in themselves. Local sheriffs, if any, will be owned by the company. That’s frontiers for ya.

  12. No EPA .. great my corporation can dump it’s toxic waste on your lunar operations.

    No FCC .. great my corporation can jam your lunar communications and shut you down.

    No FDA ,, great my corporation can send you drugged beef and wipe out your lunar operation with diarria.

    No DOJ .. great I will let you find the lunar gold and my corporation will simply move in and mine it.

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