Over at Opinio Juris, a scholarly exchange on the question of space tourism and the law that would underlie it. Steven Freeland, commenting on his own article in the Melbourne Journal of International Law, Frans G. von der Dunk responding, and Freeland’s final comments. Meanwhile, I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving; we had family over, but posting has been light for me on account of computer problems, I hope soon resolved.
Update: My own view of the space tourism and law question is … it is one of those speculative, somewhat sci-fi, debates that is more an indication of where one stands on the virtues, or not, of public international law than anything else. The tenor of the treaties to which the articles refer about outer space is that of the outer space “commons”; the shared inheritance of human kind, etc., etc. The problem with the commons, as we know, is that they are tragically exploited and that the solution is the assignment of private property rights to address the externalities. I suppose that might be possible with respect to parts of space that are close by and crowded with satellites.
But I rather doubt that is the case with respect to the rest of it, which is far away and hard to get to. Exploitation of those parts depends crucially on someone finding a way to make it pay, and if the assumption is the Little Red Hen one that she bakes and everyone else eats, then there will be no exploitation at all. Which is to say, the tragedy of the un-commons.