My latest piece at The New Atlantis is up.
It’s very similar to my paper for CEI, but I have a new twist at the end:
…it is worth noting that, while the OST arguably does not prevent the recognition of property claims per se, it may prove to be a hindrance to any kind at all of large-scale space activity, not just settlement. In that regard, this is the most troublesome sentence in the entire treaty: “The activities of non-governmental entities in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall require authorization and continuing supervision by the appropriate State Party to the Treaty.”
Consider the implications of the words “continuing supervision,” if taken literally. It could be argued that satisfaction of this requirement would demand that any person operating off the planet would be required to have a government minder with him at all times. Prior approval — for example, a launch license — might not be sufficient, because supervision could be argued to imply not just observation, but physical control. This wording in the treaty could imply that even the remote monitoring of private activity in space, which itself would be a significant hindrance for space settlement, would be insufficient.
With new affordable spaceflight technologies on the horizon, extensive private activity in space will be a serious possibility in the near future. If we wish to see humanity flourish in space, we have to recognize that the Outer Space Treaty is a relic of a different era. Fresh interpretations may not suffice: we may soon have to renegotiate and amend the treaty — or even completely scrap it and start from scratch — if we want not just to protect space as a mere scientific preserve but to open it for settlement as a grand new frontier.
So we have to be prepared to fight.