Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos suspected of plans to create an independent alien government

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Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos suspected of plans to create an independent alien government
Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos suspected of plans to create an independent alien government

In recent years, plans for the colonization of Mars have been smoothly moving from the category of pseudoscientific fiction into an ever-faster approaching reality. In addition to technical and logistic issues, such projects raise much more boring topics - legal. And it seems that the two main ideologues of the expansion of mankind beyond the Earth have fully formed considerations in this regard.

We can say that the "first sign" that speaks of Elon Musk's serious plans to legally formalize the colonization of Mars was the Starlink satellite Internet user agreement. In this document there is a mention of the sovereignty of the settlement on the Red Planet and everyone who agrees to use Starlink, in fact, must recognize it when it appears. This is a very controversial point, but it can cause concern for lawyers.

Until recently, most social media users discussed this section of Starlink's terms of service in a purely humorous manner. However, the Independent turned to lawyers and specialists in international law. The consultants' fears and opinions were framed in a curious article entitled "Battle for Mars: How Elon Musk, Blue Origin and the US Government Could Establish the First Extraterrestrial Government."

What Musk Wants

From the point of view of lawyers, the above clause of the user agreement can be interpreted in two ways. Perhaps the extravagant billionaire is fooling around again and this is another joke. If, after the beta test of satellite Internet in the final version of the terms of its use, this paragraph disappears, then there is no need to worry about legal conflicts with SpaceX in the future.

But there is another option. Musk has already outlined his vision of the future of humanity in general terms. Elon plans to send people to Mars in dozens or even hundreds at a time using a system currently under construction from the Starship spacecraft and the Super Heavy rocket. This process should begin already in the third decade of the 21st century, and its result will be a self-sustaining settlement on the Red Planet. Yes, Musk has repeatedly postponed the dates of his plans earlier, but almost all of them somehow became a reality - electric cars make a profit, rockets fly and return, and tunnels are dug.

The emergence of a colony on Mars will quickly become a legal problem. Even if at first the rule of Earth law or American law will act in it. When the population grows to at least a few hundred people, the settlement will need its own system of legal regulation. Communication with the Earth - about 20 minutes delay, transport communication - from six months to two years. In such conditions, waiting for material assistance or at least operational advice is pointless.

Tesla and SpaceX founder - Elon Musk / © David MCnew, AFP

Musk voiced his point of view earlier, in 2016. According to him, the Martian settlements will be governed by direct democracy independent of the Earth. Perhaps the "bookmark" in the user agreement is the first brick in the foundation of the Red Planet's constitution. According to the interviewed lawyers, even if this point does not make sense now, it will take root in the document and when the time comes it will have to be taken into account. At least, because a large number of people are used to it, and many support it.

Bezos, Blue Origin and Orbital Cities

With the head of Blue Origin, things are far from clear. The Amazon founder's space company is actively working on a super-heavy rocket, engines and lander.But the public becomes aware of her successes only in those areas of activity that are associated with interaction on joint programs. For example, as part of a competition for the delivery of goods to the moon or a project for a new rocket for the United Launch Alliance.

Nevertheless, Bezos himself has repeatedly described how humanity sees in space. People will live in giant colony stations that are fully capable of supporting themselves. And his company Blue Origin is working towards an early implementation of this idea. Jeff never elaborated on any political or social aspects of such space settlements.

Nevertheless, all activities of Bezos' business projects in general and Blue Origin in particular are distinguished by careful planning. His undertakings are always worked out in detail for years to come and are carried out according to plan. This is well demonstrated by the success of the New Shepard development program. Space law expert at the Nebraska College of Law, Professor Von der Dunk, notes that Bezos should also have a solution at the ready, only more coherent and logical than Musk's. He has no doubts about it, since legal issues are exactly what a responsible businessman thinks out in advance.

And the US position

As a major global player in the space exploration and exploitation arena, the United States has great influence on international agreements in this area. At the same time, they are linked by a number of existing documents. Although they are trying to play the role of a locomotive in terms of creating new, more perfect and relevant solutions to modern realities.

Artistic depiction of Starship takeoff with Super Heavy first stage / © SpaceX

The 1967 Outer Space Treaty, in very general terms, lays the foundation for the legal regulation of extraterrestrial activity. Among its points there is one that prohibits the establishment of the sovereignty of any one nation over any celestial body or area of ​​space. This document has been ratified (that is, signed and recognized as valid at the level of national legislation) by more than a hundred countries.

At the same time, today it is the only international agreement that somehow regulates general legal issues in space. Later, several conventions were signed, dealing with particular issues. But a rather specific document of 1979 - the "Lunar Agreement" - has not been ratified by any space power: neither the United States, nor Russia, nor China. Although he concretizes many issues, including the ban on the use of a natural satellite of the Earth for military purposes, he leaves some important points unclear. In particular, who will own, for example, the resources extracted on the Moon and how its commercial use should be regulated.

In 2020, the administration of US President Donald Trump issued an executive order stating that the "Lunar Agreement" has no effect. The presidential decree also contained many specific conclusions describing the possibility for commercial structures to exploit resources on the celestial body next to Earth. Despite the fact that the document was a statement of the factual situation with the legal status of the Moon, a storm of criticism fell upon it. On the other hand, American private space companies have become clear about how their activities will be regulated. In addition, the Artemis Agreement was released, proposing new mutually beneficial principles for the exploration of the moon.

Historical context

Humanity has more than once faced the problem of putting things in order in places far from civilization. Whether it's the American Wild West, the colonization of Africa and South America, expeditions to remote Pacific islands or the exploration of the poles. Sooner or later, settlements arose where it was necessary to establish some kind of laws, regulation and power, or there were crimes for which responsibility must be formalized.

In most cases, the law of the sea helped - the captain of the ship represents the ruler of the country from which the voyage began and has very broad powers. These rules, which vary greatly from country to country, often contain prescriptions for most situations. When codes did not help, strength or diplomacy saved. But those days have already passed, and mankind, albeit vague, but somewhat different plans for space.

Artistic takeoff of the New Glenn super-heavy rocket / © Blue Origin

There are examples of legalizing the rules adopted by the pioneers. For example, in the 19th century, the US Congress recognized the self-established laws of mining settlements. But only if they did not contradict federal law. And there are examples of legal collisions as a result of committing crimes in territories where no one has jurisdiction.

We are talking about Antarctica, which since 1961 does not belong to any state and only scientific activities are allowed on its territory. To a first approximation, it is very similar to future colonies on Mars. The history of the development of the ice continent is, in fact, rich in crimes. The investigation of these cases and the identification of the perpetrators quite often becomes a laborious, lengthy and full of legal complexities process.

Finally - the famous "T-3 case", which ended with a complete acquittal of the murderer. In 1970, at the T-3 drifting station in the Arctic, two researchers got into a fight and one shot the other. During the trial, many questions arose about the jurisdiction of US criminal law in special circumstances. The killer was released, but the lawyers racked their brains until 1984. Then an amendment was made, according to which the federal jurisdiction of the United States can be established in the framework of a crime committed against a US citizen (or them) in a territory where no other jurisdiction exists. In other words, this clause of the law applies to Mars. Perhaps the future colonists will establish their own state just so as not to fly to court back to Earth?

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