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LAND RUSH: The Space Settlement Initiative is encouraging the development of a property rights system for the Moon and Mars, as a way to encourage exploration and settlement.

It’s an idea floated for some time by Alan Wasser. The site describes the plan and deals with a number of basic questions and objections to it (including the primary question I had while reading it: why base this whole arrangement around a Cold War-era treaty?).

The idea sounds like it has potential, but I see a major practical hurdle in the form of the “international community”. It is hard to imagine other countries going along with the plan, purely because it may be predominantly U.S. companies and individuals who carry out the required activities and therefore reap the rewards:

Some third world countries have claimed that the “common heritage” doctrine would mean that anyone wanting to establish a lunar settlement might have to pay off the leaders of every nation on Earth.

Hardly surprising. And that was in 1979 — it’s doubtful such redistributive thinking has dulled in the intervening two decades.

Nonetheless, it’s great food for thought.

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