View the Draft
|The Space Settlement Prize Act is a draft law proposed by The Space Settlement Institute that would create, at no cost to taxpayers, a multi-billion dollar incentive for private companies to finance and build permanent settlements on the Moon and/or Mars. Included in the legislation is the requirement that these companies build an Earth-Moon or Earth-Mars space line open to all paying passengers.
One thing has become very clear in the last 30 years. For the space frontier to be opened in our lifetimes, private enterprise must begin to invest heavily in space development very soon. It is obvious the government cannot, or will not, help humanity settle space - even if their intention were to do so. At best, NASA may help us get there; the rest will be up to the private sector.
The only way to interest investors in building space settlements is to make doing so very profitable. No company can throw billions into a project without a huge profit waiting down the line. Even if they could convince investors to do it, the companies that tried would obviously go bankrupt.
The problem continues to be that there have been proposed no conceivable ventures in space that would return billions of dollars in any reasonable timeframe. Space solar power, asteroid or Lunar mining, space tourism, and so on will one day be viable businesses. But without the existing space infrastructure, which will cost billions to construct, building a hotel on the Moon right now would be like building a hotel in the Sahara Desert - only it would be a lot harder to get to.
Constructing the missing space infrastructure - the gas stations, supply depots, repair shops, and rest stops on the Earth-Moon and Earth-Mars superhighways - that is the enabler for humanity's expansion into the Solar System.
There is actually one asset in space that could produce a multi-billion dollar return for investors, if the proper laws were in place to enable ownership. The most potentially valuable asset on the Moon and Mars is the land itself, as real estate.
Someday in the future, once there is a true permanent settlement, regular commercial access, and a system of space property rights, Lunar and Martian real estate will acquire a multi-billion dollar value. However, the incentive is obviously needed now, to spark the outward push, not later after settlement has already happened.
The U.S. needs to promise, now, that when and if anyone succeeds in establishing a permanent, privately funded space settlement and space line, U.S. courts will accept the settlement's claim to ownership of a substantial share of that land. This concept has come to be known as "land claims recognition". (Incidentally, the same incentive would also apply to asteroids and any other object on which a permanent space settlement could be built.)
Official recognition by U.S. Courts of a private claim of land on the Moon or Mars (based legally on the occupation and use by a permanent settlement) would allow the settlement to sell deeds to their Lunar land back on Earth. This could begin as soon as - but not before - the actual settlement and space line was built.
The settlement company could sell to those who intend to book passage on the settlement's ships and use their land, but also to the much, much larger market of land speculators and investors who hope to make a profit on Lunar land deeds, without ever, themselves, leaving Earth.
The Space Settlement Prize Act would cost politicians nothing at all to pass. Not one dime is required from the U.S. budget, and in fact the burgeoning space activity should provide a big boost to certain sectors of the economy. One reason the legislation is not on their radar screen, however, is the contentious nature of the international space laws that currently exist.
The good news is that researchers at The Space Settlement Institute have found solutions and legal precedents that address every major objection. The objective now is to find individuals with the necessary connections to bring the legislation from a draft into real law. This is a hugely difficult mandate and help is needed.
If you would like to learn more about The Space Settlement Prize Act and land claims recognition, see the following links. The Space Settlement Initiative site contains a very straightforward, easy-to-digest explanation, including a Q&A section. Also recommended is an actual draft of The Space Settlement Prize Act, a link to which is also provided.
The Space Settlement Initiative website
The Space Settlement Prize Act (draft legislation)
The Private Space Companies Act (draft legislation) - slightly different version of The Space Settlement Prize Act which emphasizes that private companies, and by extension the national/world economy in general, stand to benefit directly, financially, and substantially from such a law - at no cost to the government.
The Space Homestead Act (draft legislation) - another version of The Space Settlement Prize Act with emphasis on prizes removed.
Lunar Land Claims Recognition: Designing the Ultimate Incentive for Space Infrastructure Development (AAS Space Times Magazine, May/June 2005)
Questions not addressed on these pages (see also the Frequently Asked Questions section) can be directed through email to Alan Wasser, Chairman of The Space Settlement Institute, or Douglas Jobes, President. If you want to help promote The Space Settlement Prize Act among the general public or in Congress, send an email with "Space Settlement Prize Act - I want to help" in the Subject line to either individual or to the Institute's general contact address.
Every revolutionary idea passes through three stages of reaction:
- Arthur C. Clarke