Battle for Mars: How Elon Musk, Blue Origin, and the United States could establish the first alien government

The moment the first man steps on Mars is getting closer. The 140 million-mile distance from Earth to the Red Planet should be broken in the next two decades, NASA predicts.

Recently, the space agency announced its plans for its missions to the moon Artemis – aimed at taking place in 2024 – that could establish a lunar base on the moon as a springboard before the first planetary spacewalk.

For some, however, just taking the first step on an alien planet does not look far enough into the future. Once the community is established on Mars, discussions will have to take place on how exactly it is managed and functioning. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, is one of the people planning such a future and seems to be already laying the groundwork in terms of the company’s current product services.

“For services provided on Mars or in transit to Mars by means of a Starcraft or other colonizing spacecraft, the Parties recognize Mars as a free planet and that no government on Earth has authority or sovereignty over Mars’ activities,” the relevant law section states. .

“Consequently, disputes will be resolved through self-governing principles, established in good faith, at the time of the Martian settlement.”

SpaceX did not respond to multiple attempts to obtain more information The Independent, but experts suggest that adding this segment could actually have two purposes: the first is that it is a joke; the second is to lay the groundwork for a Martian constitution – based on how completely lenient existing space exploration legislation is.

The section Musk added added “a bit creepy to the cheek with his contracts … referring to this Mars constitution, which he will draft,” according to Randy Segal, of Hogan Lovells ’law firm. “He’s trying to include in his commercial terms … how you’re going to abide by the law.”

The 2020 Artemis laws and the 1957 Space Universe Agreement (which Artemis signatories say they will abide by) apply here. These laws include the line: “Outer space is not subject to national appropriation on the basis of claims to sovereignty, use or occupation, or in any other way.” As a result, these treaties halt space exploration as “land grabbing,” as Segal describes it.

However, regulations are generally “motherhood and apple pie,” says Segal – an American phrase that means something no reasonable person could agree to, such as provisions on transparency, interoperability, and emergency space exploration.

“The whole law of space implies that we on this planet share the rights and responsibilities to make the universe something that we can all share together,” Segal says.

“Generally, if the clause is illegal, you would read the rest of the contract as executive and independent. He added a section relating to the services of Mars (which is not provided today, so it has no effect), “but in five or ten years” he can revise his contract.

“I don’t know if a provision like this, other than being witty and anecdotally noteworthy, is something that does anything at all in the rest of the contract. He could try to lay some groundwork for offering an independent constitution … just as he did for electric cars and reusable rockets. Is there any precedent or enforceability? The answer I would say is obviously no; but if you say something enough, people could come around. “

Elon Musk has unveiled a new SpaceX spacecraft designed to carry a crew to Mars

While Musk’s treaties may not be legally powerful (or “tricks,” as one professor thought), they are likely to start a conversation about how lawmakers should go about planning a constitution on Mars. This is something that the General Council of SpaceX, David Anderman, seems to be already investigating.

“Our goal is to be able to send 1,000 starships with 100 people every two years,” Anderman said, Business Insider reports.

“We’ll start with 100, then a few hundred, then 100,000, then a million, until we get a truly viable colony. That’s going to happen in my lifetime. Faster than you think.”

He also said he expects SpaceX to “impose our own legal regime,” but that it would be “interesting to see how it plays out with terrestrial governments exercising control.” Anderman has not responded to more requests for comments since The Independent before publication.

While colonization may be the way SpaceX and other companies think about alien exploration, Musk legally has a better chance of creating a community rather than a colony because he would still be under U.S. administration.

“A community is a group of people with common interests and characteristics. Colony is a legal term applied to the territory that is under the sovereignty and jurisdiction of the colonizing state, ”said Professor Sa’id Mosteshar, director of the London Institute of Space Policy and Law. The Independent.

Currently, if SpaceX or Musk created a community on Mars, its activity would be administered by the United States. However, it could be that in the future, legislators see the need for a constitution governing the entirety of Mars, rather than dividing laws into geographic jurisdictions as they do now.

That’s exactly what will happen, we’ll see. Musk said in 2016 that his intentions for the Martian government would be direct democracy, where people vote on these issues, and not through politicians from representative democracies, as we are doing now.

“So these would be people who vote directly on some issues. And I think that’s probably better, because the potential for corruption is significantly reduced in direct versus representative democracy.

“I think I would recommend that some adjustment of the inertia of the law be smart. It should probably be easier to remove the law than to create it,” Musk also said. “I think that’s probably a good thing, because laws have an infinite life unless they’re taken away.”

The advantages and pitfalls of such a system, similar to many government systems on Earth, are numerous, and experts suggest that the most useful Martian government is more likely to be the one ultimately decided on Mars itself.

Like SpaceX, other space competitors, such as Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, are also likely to explore similar proposals – albeit in a “slightly more coherent and logical business than SpaceX,” Professor Von der Dunk, a space law expert at the Faculty of Law. in Nebraska, he said The Independent.

“It is very appropriate to think about how to resolve the certainty that there will be conflicts that require a legal solution. In the end, of course, both SpaceX and all other companies can only 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 to control Mars remain unknown. Its founder, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, gave several allusions to his idea of ​​extraterrestrial life, predicting an “incredible civilization” in which a trillion people live in bucolic colonies similar to those assumed by physicist Gerard O’Neill.

“They are not what you imagine. I mean, they’ll have farms, rivers, and universities; they could have a million people in them. They are cities. But I, too, wish I could come back and forth to Earth, “Bezos said, but is taking deliberately slower access to space than Musk. As for the law, Blue Origin told The Independent that this is not the topic she was talking about.

O’Neill cylinder, consisting of two cylinders that rotate in opposite positions to provide artificial gravity

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O’Neill cylinder, consisting of two cylinders that rotate in opposite positions to provide artificial gravity


As for the future of these laws, unusual legal cases from the past can provide some guidance. It has already been suggested that murder in the Arctic, where a lack of jurisdiction meant the killer was acquitted of all charges, could provide the basis for extraterrestrial laws where country-related jurisdiction cannot come.

There is a human impulse to create stability through the law, Anderson told The Independent, and as such would result in fostering a framework that could be applied to the entire planet in a way that could not be achieved on Earth due to geological and cultural boundaries.

If Musk – or any other space travel pioneer – seeks favorable arrangements to ensure that the legislation they want is enforced, a number of routes are available.

Counties like Luxembourg are already looking at space privatization, while others like New Zealand and the UAE are attractive for potential space launches because of their geographical location, or tax breaks. While neither seems particularly likely as home to the next SpaceX or Blue Origin launch site – as both companies are deeply immersed in the U.S. industrial spacecraft manufacturing ecosystem – they provide an opportunity for distinctly non-American hegemony. beyond our planet, Anderson’s hypothesis.

As for when finally and, most importantly, the question of when Mars could become self-sustaining with its own legal system, lawyers are unsure – but it is likely that, once the first community is established, it will strive to be fairly regulated quickly due to interplanetary communication difficulties.

“I have to pay homage to the real scientists here, some of whom can last for 10 years, and others for more than a century or more,” says Professor von der Dunk. “I’d probably settle somewhere safe in the middle.”