The US Government is Already Encouraging the Commercialization of the Moon

Tuesday, 03 February 2015 - 4:36PM
Tuesday, 03 February 2015 - 4:36PM
The US Government is Already Encouraging the Commercialization of the Moon

There's no such thing as jumping the gun when it comes to capitalism, apparently. According to documents obtained by Reuters, the FAA has taken steps to regulate commercial development on the moon.

 

The FAA sent a letter to Bigelow Aerospace, which has recently been attempting to build inflatable lunar habitats for humans, detailing their plans 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." The FAA also stated that they "recognize the private sector's need to protect its assets and personnel on the moon or on other celestial bodies."

 

Technically, this is perfectly allowable, as human commercial ventures on the Moon are governed by a United Nations Treaty, written in 1967, which states that nations cannot claim territory on the Moon, but that businesses can set up shop on the Moon as long as they're federally licensed. 

 

So it appears that the FAA will take on the role of licensing and regulating business activities on the Moon in the near future. Eventually, this decision could lead to a licensing agreement with Bigelow Aerospace, for example, which would allow them to operate on a specific part of the moon without interference from any other businesses or missions. The FAA claimed in their letter that if an agreement were reached, Bigelow's development would be protected from interference.

 

However, according to one Bigelow executive, this is not quite as ruthlessly capitalistic as it sounds, as it "doesn't mean that there's ownership of the moon," but that "it just means that somebody else isn't licensed to land on top of you or land on top of where exploration and prospecting activities are going on, which may be quite a distance from the lunar station."

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Space