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FAQ #33: What will this legislation do for general economic growth?

Of course, it is impossible to give hard figures, in advance, about just how much Lunar land claims recognition legislation will benefit the overall economy, but there is a generally accepted way to make a reasonable estimate. Using those standard methods we can estimate the total effect on economic growth generally will be at least 350 Billion dollars ($350,000,000,000) and could possibly end up approaching a Trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) from development and a decade of operations.

Here's how we calculate that. First, the hardest part, we have to estimate how much money will have to be raised from venture capitalists (some from overseas, of course) and invested in space development to meet all the requirements necessary to make a land claim under the law. Those requirements are:

  • Develop safe, reliable affordable transport to and from the Moon as well as the infrastructure for a permanent Lunar settlement

  • Set up and operate a space "airline" going back and forth to bring in the permanent residents and fare-paying visitors

  • Support the settlement until other revenue sources can take over

Dr. Eric Rice, the CEO of Orbitec and the leader of a NASA funded study of land claims recognition legislation estimates that will take between $50 and $75 billion in current year dollars if done by private enterprise.*

Of course, each initial dollar raised and spent will produce multiple dollars of benefit to the economy as the settlement company buys products from prime suppliers, who buy from secondary suppliers, who in turn buy from raw material companies, etc., and each level hires workers (creating thousands of well-paying aerospace jobs) who, in turn, spend their new income buying things like houses and supporting service businesses like restaurants, etc.

Traditionally, in estimating the effect of aerospace spending on the overall economy, the generally accepted practice has been to assume a multiplier of 7 times the initial investment.

Using that standard, if Dr. Rice is right about the investment needed, it indicates that even one team working to establish a settlement and space line will add between $350 and $525 Billion ($50 to $75 Billion times 7) to our economy, even before the economic benefits of the land sales themselves and spinoff activities.

Of course, if multiple teams were to compete, the benefit to the general economy will also be multiplied by the number of competitors. Therefore, if land claims recognition legislation were to set off a commercial space race, it is not impossible that the total effect on economic growth generally could end up approaching a Trillion dollars.

But again, remember these are what is called "forward looking statements" which can only be our best estimates as to what will happen, not statements of provable fact.

- - -

*Dr. Rice says he's assuming an effort that "includes the following scope: the initial development, placement and 10 years of operations of a: (1) reliable, safe, and cost-effective Lunar Space Transportation System infrastructure, including: reusable low-cost Earth launchers, a reusable crew vehicle with wheels, Earth and Lunar orbiting propellant and servicing depots, totally reusable orbit transfer and Lunar landing vehicles, and (2) Lunar facilities at the south pole, including space and surface transport infrastructure, habitats, life support systems, space resource processing, surface vehicles, manufacturing facilities, power stations, etc."

Strip of lunar land
image credit: NASA

Questions & Answers about Lunar Land Claims Recognition

Note: The first 25 FAQs below are reprinted from the Space Settlement Initiative website.

  1. What is the real purpose of enacting a Lunar land claims recognition law?

  2. Will promising property rights be enough to produce the necessary investment in developing affordable space transport?

  3. What does international law say about private property ownership in space?

  4. Can there be property ownership without national sovereignty?

  5. What if other nations refuse to recognize land claims in space?

  6. Why not allow smaller, limited land claims for easier steps than settlement?

  7. Could lunar land really be worth enough money to make a difference?

  8. What conditions should the US set for recognition of a claim?

  9. How much land should a settlement be able to claim... and why?

  10. Why must the Earth-Moon space line and settlement be open to all paying passengers regardless of nationality?

  11. Wouldn't it help if a major company announced that, if a land claims recognition law were passed, it would try to develop affordable space transport?

  12. Are the weaknesses and compromises in this plan likely to be permanent?

  13. Didn't the earliest version of this plan talk about Lunar "land grants"? Why aren't you using that phrase any more?

  14. Did land grants work in the past, on Earth?

  15. You can't farm Lunar land, and Earth doesn't need the Moon's minerals. So how could Lunar land be put to profitable use?

  16. If you can't give figures, now, proving the profitability of the end uses of Lunar land, how could anyone raise big money for Lunar land?

  17. Could other sources of revenue be enough without land claims recognition?

  18. What if the Lunar settlement does not produce enough operating revenue to pay off its debts and make a profit?

  19. Could this law produce a new "space race"?

  20. Why is U.S. legislation, in particular, so important?

  21. Could the U.S. withdraw from the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, claim national sovereignty on the Moon, then award property rights to whomever it pleased?

  22. What about defense? Does recognizing a land claim obligate the U.S. military to defend the Lunar settlement?

  23. What effect would this have on NASA and the aerospace companies?

  24. What do the experts say about this idea?

  25. Who came up with this idea?

More FAQs

The FAQs above cover basic questions about Lunar Land Claims Recognition. The following questions address more advanced issues.

  1. If we really went to the Moon in 1969, why aren't we there now?

  2. What were the assumptions before the Outer Space Treaty, (e.g. Robert Heinlein)?

  3. Should Lunar government be modeled after Antarctica?

  4. Could the UN just give every nation a portion of the Moon to own, thereby creating valuable Lunar property rights?

  5. Why don't space activists convince the public to support a government program to establish a base on the Moon and Mars?

  6. Will changing how NASA works bring the taxpayers back on board?

  7. What would Land Claims Recognition cost the US Government?

  8. What will this legislation do for general economic growth?

  9. Who would issue and record Lunar land deeds?

  10. Why are Lunar land sales necessary?

  11. Could this law force the US to recognize a foreign government's Lunar land claim?

  12. Shouldn't we wait to put such a law into effect until free societies are ready to settle the Moon, to keep it from encouraging the Chinese?

  13. Would Article VI of the Outer Space Treaty prohibit Lunar land claims recognition?


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Every revolutionary idea passes three stages:
  1. It's impossible.
  2. It's possible but not worth doing.
  3. I said it was a good idea all along.
- Arthur C. Clarke
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