Open Floor

Hi, Everyone. Apologies, but the Dark Forces have combined this week to prevent me from getting my blog together. I’ve been looking at new power supply technologies for space-based missions and I promise an interesting look at a new application of an old (200 year old) technology next week.

Anyone got any interesting space news?


  1. Rep. Donna Edwards (D) of Maryland introduced a bill to designate the Apollo lunar landing sites as national parks. Then the U.S. government would seek the Apollo 11’s site’s designation as a UNESCO world heritage site.

    The bill does an interesting two step. First, its says the site would only consist of the Apollo landing artifacts themselves, presumably to avoid running afoul of the restriction against national appropriation in the Outer Space Treaty. However, the bill also defines the Apollo lunar landing sites as “all areas on the surface of the Moon where astronauts and instruments . . . touched the lunar surface.”

    That definition just highlights how hard it is to protect your stuff without also making some kind of claim about, however amorphous, or reference to, the place your stuff is sitting. It is my understanding that NASA still owns the artifacts it left, even without this proposed law.

    1. Every time I hear something about the Outer Space Treaty I wonder what those people were smoking. But maybe we can just decide that what Space X does or what Planetary Resources does don’t count as national appropriation. πŸ˜›

      I mean… if we’re not going to space for the real estate, we’re not going to go.

      1. You are not alone in this view. First, except for Article VI’s admonition that all the signatories supervise and authorize the acts of their nationals in outer space, most of the first treaty is directed at governmental activities. So, yeah, the use of the word “national” could logically limit that prohibition to claims of sovereignty. I am told by someone likely to know that the Chinese version of the OST doesn’t have the word “national,” suggesting that they think all appropriation is barred. How about that? (big grin)

        1. Well! πŸ™‚

          Actually, I’d love for the Chinese to go set up on the Moon or on Mars… get us off our pathetic behinds.

          1. I just told my youngest that you’re a space lawyer. She thought that was a grand joke (she’s not *little*, she’s 16) so I had to say… no, seriously… for real.

            Then she decided that you must wake up every morning going, “Wow! I’m a space lawyer!”

            1. I can’t wait to see how all these treaties and declarations stand up to actual feet-in-the-dust claims. Possession is nine-tenths of the law after all:) I wonder how much those Appollo artefacts would go for on ebaby:)

            2. I once told my boss I had wanted to be a science fiction writer when I was young. She laughed at me, and said “You *are* a science fiction writer.” I was working on human space flight regulations at the time. I will admit I’m not a treaty expert, but I do have opinions.
              Tell your daughter I wake up now and say “I’ve finally published my science fiction novel!”
              And, I love Smashwords. You get so much data.

          2. I’m counting on our guys. I love it that there are billionaires who, instead of buying baseball teams, are trying to get to space.

            1. My dream is to be a planetary materials geologist for Planetary Resources. I sure hope they actually keep their eyes on the end goal.

                1. Yes! But to be honest, I’m still sort of stuck on the math. The geology part is fabulous. The only other problem is that I’m old enough that I’d have to fit into the “culture” they describe on their job page as “den mother.” πŸ™‚

                  1. You know, there’s a spot for all of us. Just look out for my son when you both get there. Den mothers have always liked him. (And by den mothers I mean lionesses).

                    I’m in edits on my WIP. The sequel to the WIP is about property rights in space, and I’ve called it Shut the Kingdom because those who are against property rights are not those risking their own lives and treasure. It’s working title was Dog in the Manger, but I liked the Matthew verse better, especially ’cause of the reference to heaven, it being above us and all.

                    From Matthew 23.13 β€œYou shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces; you do not enter yourselves, nor will you let others enter.” [this is Wikipedia, not King James]
                    King James β€œhypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.”

                    But the sequel got de-railed and I have to start over.

              1. One of my sons has their website bookmarked. He thinks their job ad is pretty adorable.

      2. Synova, now that I know you are a geologist I will offer you interesting tidbits so that in six months when I want to quiz you about lunar lava tubes you will think of me kindly.

        If you are interested in the property rights issues, this link has a whole bunch of other good links:

        As for the “what were they thinking?” Glenn Reynolds and David Kopel at , which contains their article The New Frontier, Preparing the law for settling on Mars, addresses you inquiry. The following are copied quotes:

        1. These provisions are still valuable, but it was the “no sovereignty” provision of Article 2 that got the most attention, and that has done the most harm. Article 2 provides:
        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.

        2. During the Johnson-Nixon years, Article 2 of the Outer Space Treaty was admired as a triumph of Cold War diplomacy, one that deftly defused a source of tension between the superpowers. But recently publicized documents demonstrate that it had far more to do with domestic American budgetary politics than with the prevention of nuclear war. One might argue β€” and in fact, some people now are arguing β€” that in agreeing to this provision the United States sold its birthright for a mess of pottage.
        3. letter from Assistant Secretary of State Henry Owen to National Security Advisor Walt Rostow. Owen’s memo is on strategy for getting the United States to agree to Article II, and says:
        It will encounter strong Opposition from NASA and Ed Welsh. [Executive Secretary of the National Space Council, which coordinated space initiatives.] Nonetheless, I believe it is right, for two reasons:
        (a) Moving toward a more cooperative relationship with the USSR in this field will reinforce our over-all policy toward the Soviets.
        (b) More importantly: It will save money [emphasis in original], which can go to (i) foreign aid, (2) domestic purposes β€” thus mitigating the political strain of the war in Vietnam.
        In other words, the Outer Space Treaty was a budgetary raid first and foremost, and only secondarily a strategy of international relations. More evidence comes from the other document obtained by Wasser and reprinted by Zubrin, a State Department report to Secretary of State Dean Rusk, which set out the reasons for the Outer Space Treaty and noted:
        we see no compelling reasons for early, major commitments to [space exploration]. . . Moreover, if we can de-emphasize or stretch out additional costly programs aimed at the moon and beyond, resources may to some extent be released for other objectives.

        Kopel and Reynolds go on with some interesting analysis.

  2. The same people will own land on other bodies as own Earth real estate. Those who can project the force to hold them. All other treaties become void when tanks or their vacuum rate = roll across the lines the treaty so earnestly define.

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