Friday, December 22, 2017

Billionaires The Future Of Space Policy

FP |  Last month, the first space nation left the International Space Station.

That space nation, Asgardia-1, is actually a satellite containing personal data from some of the “nation’s” 300,000 “citizens,” launched into space by billionaire Igor Ashurbeyli. 

Asgardia is as yet unrecognized by the United Nations, and its citizens are people who filled out an application form. The goal “is to provide permanent presence of humans in space,” Ashurbeyli told Foreign Policy in a recent interview. 

Ashurbeyli isn’t the only billionaire with unusual ideas about what humanity should be doing in space. On Saturday, Politico and the New York Times both published articles revealing that another tycoon, Robert Bigelow, had convinced lawmakers to secretly appropriate money to have the Pentagon look for UFOs. 

In fact, a number of private individuals of great wealth are charting the future of space policy, whether through money or influence. Some are in it for commercial interests, others for scientific curiosity. But whatever the reason, their new space race will change the rules of the game — space is currently the realm of governments (the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 was written for countries, not business magnates), and so the involvement of wealthy individuals is changing the nature of all that’s out of this world. 

Here are some of their plans: