In case you didn’t think I’d be interested in how the federal government may or may not be getting into regulating outer space, you might not have realized I already have a tag on this website for space law.
I mean, I get the FCC being interested in regulation of communications satellites and the like. But what about space flights? Isn’t that FAA? And what about the inevitable space hotels? Wouldn’t that be the FTC? And thinking of trade, what about international trade — and when does the WTO come into all this? And how do they all work with each other?
Some days, do you ever wonder, what with all the exoplanets being discovered and concerted studying of the skies, where all the aliens are? And why haven’t we found any evidence of them? And do they make their spacecraft entirely out of the black box?
Well, Jill Tarter is here to clear some of that up. And by “clear up,” I mean “tell you how much we don’t know.”
Mind you, it might be good to go back and check with her on the UFO question, since this is from 2019, but I’m pretty sure most of her answers are, for better or for worse, still quite accurate and frustratingly open-ended.
Star Trek has influenced a lot of scientists and futurists, but recently, NASA namechecked the veteran sci-fi franchise when they talked about the Artemis Accords, a series of principles that they hope all spacefaring nations agree to, as covered by Ryan Britt for Inverse.
(By the way, I was rather gratified to know that I already had the tag ‘Space Law‘ and also that there’s a novel called Space Lawyer, which I shall have to track down on principle).
I could say I was always interested in space law, but honestly, I didn’t think about it too much until my Dad decided to do his law school thesis on the laws relating to geosynchronous satellites. It made me appreciate how complex space law can be. However, much like Burkina Faso‘s strident claims to the geostationary space above it, many of the issues seemed the epitome of academic. When would there be the possibility of any case?
So it was entertaining to read Maggie Koerth-Baker’s piece in FiveThirtyEight about the coming need to sort out laws that will govern the exploration and colonization of Mars. All of a sudden, these abstract thought exercises don’t seem so abstract. We’re going to need to figure these legal knots out in relative short order. This, of course, assumes we should try to go to Mars.
What are the odds these topics will be covered at a future Escape Velocity? Very, very high (if I or Burkina Faso have anything to say about it).