You Have No Power Here


If you mine asteroids in space do you own what you mine? The answer is obviously yes. But even though the answer is obvious the United States government felt it was appropriate to vote on the matter:

On Tuesday evening Congress took a key step toward encouraging the development of this industry by passing on H.R. 2262, the US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, with bipartisan support. The legislation provides a number of pro-business measures, such as establishing legal rights for US citizens to own resources in outer space as well as extending indemnification for commercial launches through 2025.

This vote, more so than most, is irrelevant because the United States government, even if it could justify dominion over space, cannot enforce any of its laws in space. The United States has no spaceships, let alone ones capable of blowing shit up. And while it could theoretically lay claim to any materials returned to Earth it would be foolish to do so because a space-based miner could easily deliver the material directly (when you’re at the bottom of a gravity well it’s not wise to make demands of those at the top of the gravity well).

Space is a wonderful place for those desiring freedom. No government currently has any enforcement capabilities in space and if they did there is no effective stealth in space. Miners operating in the asteroid belt could see any Earth-based warships months ahead of time and move operations or push large rocks into the path of the encroaching ships (and a ship only has so much fuel to use for maneuvering so it’s likely the warships would exhaust their fuel supply before the miners would run out of rocks to push).

This is why I think efforts to colonize space are more productive than seasteading. Treaties may say international waters aren’t under the jurisdiction of any particular government but those treaties won’t stop a government from sending its navy to take a seastead. Physics, however, makes it difficult for a government to get a force into space and even if it does physics makes it nearly impossible to effectively use that force unless the target is at the bottom of a gravity well. When your goal is freedom it’s better if natural laws have your back than human laws.

2 thoughts on “You Have No Power Here”

  1. However ineffective (unenforceable) this vote today, it very well be used as the basis for policy to come at some future time. Someone in the future may very well look back at this vote and reason that, because this vote was uncontested in a timely manner (because of the patent absurdity), therefore it has standing in that latter date.

    (Side note: this is reminiscent of policies of the late 1950s-early 1960s following discovery and confirmation of manganese nodules on the deep sea bed. Several countries simultaneously laid claim to mining rights. However, due to nonexistent mining technology, the question was merely academic. IIRC, the last push to mine the deep sea floor was circa early 1970s. But lack of technological advances plus the exorbitant costs fairly put the kibosh on such mining operations. Nonetheless, policies and regulations were put in place. I do not know if those have expired.)

    Politicians may know nothing of physics but they do know politics.

    Lastly, this is an interesting subject. Thank you for presenting it.

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