No! Waiting is not a good idea, for several reasons:
First off, any human settlement of the Moon would be be better for humanity than no settlement.
But, if your think about it carefully, you'll realize that the sooner we start this race, the better for us.
National prestige once required the US to have the world's tallest building. But, eventually the public stopped measuring national prestige the old way. Government space programs, like the world's tallest buildings, have become prestige items for second and third rate powers. The Apollo program turns out to have been a one-shot event, specific to its era, not the template for space development. Ever since, space supporters have been trying - and failing - over and over again, to convince US taxpayers they need a robust national government space program for spin-offs, incentives for engineering education, jobs, NEO warnings, etc. etc. etc.
Instead, the voters chose more tax cuts!
So the only way America is going back to the Moon is through the efforts of for-profit private enterprise.
For the Chinese and Indian governments this is still a national prestige issue, not a way to make money. China has made it clear that, when it can put a base on the Moon, it will. Some even predict that, when it does, China will withdraw from the Outer Space Treaty and claim national sovereignty over the whole Moon!
The Institute's proposed Lunar Land Claims Recognition law won't make the tiniest bit of difference to that. The only difference this law would make is whether Western private enterprise, which does care about making money, is competing in the race to the Moon or sitting back and leaving the field to the Chinese government.
So, if the Lunar Land Claims Recognition law isn't passed relatively soon, the Chinese probably will get there first. Once they have a base and a monopoly on Lunar transport, they'll claim whatever they please - up to and including the whole Moon - and they may, or may not, let us visit.
In that case, having this law on our books might possibly save us from being completely shut out from prime resources and locations on the Moon by getting the Chinese to play by its rules. Those include: no more than one claim of 4% of the Moon, and being required to allow Americans on their ships and Lunar base.
The only way this law does them, or anyone else, any good is it LETS them sell some of their land to Americans. But that also means it GETS them to sell Lunar land to Americans, and let Americans go and move in.
Even if the Lunar settlement is Chinese, I suspect that visionary space entrepreneurs such as Robert Bigelow would still be very eager to be able to buy Lunar land, build a hotel and send tourists. Every US hotel chain wants to do just that in China itself.
On the other hand, commercial space settlement is SO big an investment that the commercial settlement efforts that would be influenced by this law, would almost certainly be multi-national consortia - like all really big projects these days. Investors, components, executives and settlers, etc. would come from many different countries, including the US, China, Japan, and Europe - not specifically from any one nation.
Finally, compare the current era to when Kennedy had the guts to commit us to the race to the Moon, even though we were then WAY behind the Russians. What if JFK had said, "We can't start the race to the Moon until we're guaranteed we'll win"? By having the courage to start the race then, even though we might have lost, he motivated America to excel, and when we came from behind to win, the victory was so much sweeter.
Today we're still well ahead of the Chinese and Indians. But without some big-profit incentive like this one to motivate American free enterprise, even that won't last.
The sooner we start this race, the better for America, and the sooner the settlement of space will occur.
Note: The first 25 FAQs below are reprinted from the Space Settlement Initiative website.
The FAQs above cover basic questions about Lunar Land Claims Recognition. The following questions address more advanced issues.
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