With all this talk of Mars exploration, the US government clearly has spacefaring commercialism on its mind.
In clear pursuit of Newt Gingrich’s sweeping vision, a company called Bigelow Aerospace is considering putting some sort of inflatable base on the moon, and in the process of completing their plans, contacted the Federal Aviation Administration to find out whether their biodome would fall under American authority. In a letter obtained by Reuters, the FAA noted, to the great relief of all parties involved, that no, the FAA does not have authority to govern your moonbase. Yet.
According to documents obtained by Reuters, U.S. companies can stake claims to lunar territory through an existing licensing process for space launches.
The Federal Aviation Administration, in a previously undisclosed late-December letter to Bigelow Aerospace, said the agency intends to “leverage the FAA’s existing launch licensing authority to encourage private sector investments in space systems by ensuring that commercial activities can be conducted on a non-interference basis.”
In other words, experts said, Bigelow could set up one of its proposed inflatable habitats on the moon, and expect to have exclusive rights to that territory – as well as related areas that might be tapped for mining, exploration and other activities.
The FAA did go on, however, to note that the only reason they wouldn’t be taxing and regulating your moonbase habitat is simply because they lack the infrastructure. Right now, the FAA can’t send people to the moon to see if what you’re doing falls within the bounds of American law, and the moon doesn’t have the authority to send anyone to Congress to control the government’s regulating power, so consider the moon the only place (not) on Earth you can be truly free of elected officials and their influence. For now.
The FAA did also point out that a United Nations treaty, drafted around the time of the Apollo moon landing, does specify that each country’s bases must be governed by that country’s laws and authorities. Bigelow is an American company, though it is working in cooperation with a number of other countries with the capacity to deliver private citizens into space. This year, they will begin testing an outer space habitat on the International Space Station and then plan to build orbital habitats that can serve as vacation hubs. The moon base is still years away, but it’s definitely in the plan.
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