The moment the first man sets foot on Mars is getting closer and closer. The 140 million-mile distance between Earth and the Red Planet will be violated over the next two decades, NASA predicts.
Recently, the space agency announced plans for its monthly Artemis missions – set to take place in 2024 – which could establish a lunar base on the moon as a cornerstone before the first planetary space passage.
For some, however, simply taking the first step on an alien planet does not look far enough into the future. Once a community is established on Mars, there will have to be discussions about exactly how it is governed and functioned. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, is one of those people who is planning such a future and already seems to be laying the groundwork for the company’s current product services.
“For services provided to Mars or in transit to Mars by Starship or another spacecraft, the parties recognize Mars as a free planet and that no government on Earth has authority or sovereignty over Martian activities,” the law section reads. governess.
“Consequently, disputes will be settled by principles of self-government, established in good faith, at the time of the Martian settlement.”
SpaceX did not respond to multiple attempts to obtain more information Independentul, but experts suggest that adding this segment could actually have two purposes: the first is that it’s a joke; the second is that it lays the groundwork for a constitution on Mars – based on how permissive existing legislation is to explore space.
The section Musk added is “a little tongue in cheek with his contracts … referring to this Martian constitution he will draft,” according to Randy Segal of the law firm Hogan Lovells. “Try to include in its commercial terms … how you will comply with applicable law.”
The law applicable here are the 2020 Artemis Agreements and the 1957 Outer Space Treaty (by which the signatories of the Artemis Agreements say they will comply). That legislation includes the line: “Outer space is not subject to national appropriation by the claim of sovereignty, by use or occupation or by any other means.” As a result, these treaties stop space exploration from becoming a “grab”, as Segal describes it.
However, the regulations are generally “maternity and apple pie,” says Segal – an American expression meaning something that no reasonable person could agree with, such as the provisions on transparency, interoperability and health care. urgency in terms of space exploration.
“The entire space law takes into account the fact that those on this planet share the rights and responsibility to make space something we can all share together,” says Segal.
“Generally, if a clause is illegal, you would read the rest of the contract to be enforceable and to be alone. He added a section on Mars services (which is not offered today, so it has no effect), “but in five or 10 years” he can review his contract.
“I don’t know that a disposition like this, apart from being full of humor and anecdotally remarkable, is something that does absolutely anything for the rest of the contract. It could try to lay the groundwork for an independent constitution … just as it did for reusable electric cars and launch vehicles. Does it have any precedent or enforceability? The answer I would say is clearly no; but if you say something enough, people might come around. “
Elon Musk unveils a new SpaceX spacecraft designed to transport the crew to Mars
While Musk’s contracts may not be legally strong (or “stupid,” as one professor called them), it’s likely to start a conversation about how lawmakers should go. on planning a constitution on Mars. This is something that SpaceX General Council David Anderman already seems to be looking at.
“Our goal is to be able to send 1,000 starships with 100 people every two years,” Anderman said, according to Business Insider.
“We’ll start with 100, then a few hundred, then 100,000, then a million until we have a truly sustainable colony. It’s going to happen in my life. Faster than you think.”
He also said that he expects SpaceX to “impose our own legal regime,” but that it would be “interesting to see how it plays with controlling terrestrial governments.” Anderman did not respond to several requests for comment from Independentul before publication.
While colonization may be the way SpaceX and other companies think about alien exploration, legally Musk is more likely to create a community, rather than a colony, because he would still be under US rule.
“A community is a group of people with common interests and characteristics. Colony is a legal term applied to the territory subject to the sovereignty and jurisdiction of the colonizing state, “said Professor Sa’id Mosteshar, director of the London Institute of Space Policy and Law. Independent.
Currently, if SpaceX or Musk creates a community on Mars, its work will be subject to the United States government. However, in the future, legislators may see the need for a constitution to govern the entire Mars, rather than having laws divided into geographic jurisdictions, as they do now.
It remains to be seen exactly how this would unfold. In 2016, Musk said his intentions for a Martian government would be a direct democracy, in which people vote for the issues themselves, rather than through politicians under representative democracies, as we do now.
“So it would be the people who vote directly on the issues. And I think it’s probably better, because the potential for corruption is substantially diminished in a direct democracy versus a representative democracy.
“I think I would recommend some adjustments to the inertia of the laws would be wise. It should probably be easier to remove a law than to create one,” Musk said. “I think that’s probably good, because laws have an infinite life if they’re not taken.”
The benefits and pitfalls of such a system, like many government systems on Earth, are numerous, and experts suggest that the most beneficial government is more likely to be the one that ultimately decides on Mars itself.
Like SpaceX, other space-traveling competitors, such as Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, are also likely to explore similar proposals – albeit in a “somewhat more coherent and logical job than SpaceX”. Professor Von der Dunk, an expert in space law at Nebraska Law College, said Independent.
“It is very appropriate to think about how to approach the certainty that conflicts will arise that require a legal solution. In the end, of course, both SpaceX and all the other companies can go that far, ”he said, adding that while companies can set the agenda, it will ultimately be up to governments to decide whether to adopt it.
Blue Origin’s intentions for Martian rule remain unknown. Its founder, Jeff Bezos of the Amazon, made some allusions to his idea of extraplanetary life, predicting an “incredible civilization” in which a trillion people live in bucolic colonies similar to those hypothesized by physicist Gerard O’Neill.
“I am not what you imagine. That is, they will have farms, rivers and universities; it could have a million people in them. There are cities. But I wish I could go back to Earth, “Bezos said, but he takes a slower approach to space than Musk. In terms of legislation, he said Blue Origin Independentul that it was not a subject he had spoken of.
As for the future of these laws, the strange legal cases of the past may provide some guidance. It has already been suggested that a crime in the Arctic, where the lack of legal jurisdiction meant that the criminal was acquitted of all charges, could form the basis of extraplanetary laws where terrestrial jurisdiction cannot reach.
There is a human impulse to create stability through the law, Anderson said Independentuland, as such, would lead to an impetus for a framework that could be applied to the entire planet in a way that could not be achieved on Earth because of geological and cultural boundaries.
If Musk – or any other space pioneer – is looking for favorable arrangements to ensure that the legislation they want is implemented, there are a number of routes available.
Countries such as Luxembourg are already setting their sights on space privatization, while others such as New Zealand and the UAE are both attractive for potential space launches due to their geographical locations and tax benefits, respectively. While neither seems particularly likely to be home to the next SpaceX or Blue Origin launch site – as both companies are deeply immersed in the US spacecraft manufacturing ecosystem – they present the opportunity for distinct non-American hegemony outside the planet, Anderson hypothesis.
As for the last, and probably most important, question of when Mars could become self-sufficient with its own legal system, lawyers are unsure – but it is likely that once the first community was established, it would seek to self-regulate. correct quickly due to the difficulties of interplanetary communication.
“I have to refer to the real scientists here, some of whom could be 10 years old, others more than a century or more,” says Professor von der Dunk. “I’d probably be somewhere safe in the middle.”