Category Archives: Political Commentary

Space Property Rights

Steve Wolfe just sent me a call for papers that’s right up my (and perhaps some of my readers’) alley:

I am chairing an interesting program at the ISDC this year titled the Space Settlement Policy Forum. It will be held June 5th in Washington, DC. Forum details and agenda are attached.

Though most consider discussion of space settlement related policies to be academic, for Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and other leaders the reality of space settlement is an imminent and highly desirable probability. In this forum we will take a sober look at the laws and policies that would or should be implemented in order to facilitate and encourage space settlement development. The Forum will address this broad challenge without presuming a single ‘silver bullet’ solution.

Topic Categories Include:

  • How Current Space Law Encourages and Inhibits Space Settlement Development
  • Potential Government Incentives for Private Funding of Space Settlements
  • Changes to International Law to Enable Space Settlement Development
  • Licensing Regime for Space Settlement Development and Construction—What would it look like?
  • Proper Role of Government in Space Settlement Development: Leading the Way or Being a Cheer Leader?
  • What Are the Space Settlement Enabling Technologies That Government Agencies Should Be Investing In Now?

Presentation Submission Guidelines:

  1. Prepare a 15-minute to present with slides
  2. Prepare a paper of not less than 3-pages that will be publish in the proceedings of the conference.
  3. The presentation must recommend, and argue for, a particular legal or regulatory change directly related to space settlement
  4. The paper must provide a summary that includes specific recommendations for policy change
  5. Interest must be expressed to Steve Wolfe immediately
  6. Abstract submission due by January 25, 2019

Kind of short notice, but I’ll probably be submitting multiple abstracts.

The Wall

If the Democrats want to lose the fight, all they have to do is keep talking. The utter irrationality of their “arguments” has been breathtaking.

[Update a while later]

Shutdown stalemate as Republicans go factual, and Democrats go illogical.

[Update a few minutes later]

The week in pictures, government-shutdown edition.

[Update a few more minutes later]

The stupidest argument of the week.

It’s stiff competition.

Taking The Smarts Out Of “Smart TV”

…would make them more expensive.

I’ve never given our 65″ Vizio (which we bought a year ago) our wifi password. It has no information other than what comes in through the HDMI cable. It’s purely a monitor. I don’t talk to Google, and I won’t get an Alexa. I’ve never installed Facebook on my phone, and I turn off my location unless I need it. I don’t want the tech giants spying on me and selling my data. Because at some point, the government is going to demand it, and they’ll comply.


No, conservatives are not angry because she danced on a rooftop.

I had a stupid Twitter exchange with one of these idiots yesterday.

China And Space

This piece is monumental in its ignorance of human spaceflight in the U.S.:

China can put people in space, as can Russia, but the United States cannot. In fact, the landing on the moon should be seen as another step toward China’s goal of landing humans on the Moon. The Colombia disaster made NASA risk-averse, slowing the development of manned programs to a crawl. The previous administration’s decision to rely on commercial space programs for human flight has not yet born fruit, and these efforts so far have repeated what U.S. space programs did in the 1950s. The promised flight to Mars was always a fantasy. Right now, China has the most promising human spaceflight program.

The United States can put people in space any time it wants; it just doesn’t want to. Note that the words “Commercial Crew” don’t appear in the article, though DM-1 is scheduled in the next few weeks, maybe even this month. Barring a major problem, we should have two separate domestic vehicles capable of sending humans into space this year. And it completely ignores both SpaceX’s and Blue Origin’s plans for much larger reusable systems. The notion that China is ahead of us in any aspect of spaceflight is nonsensical.

[Update a few minutes later]

Speaking of China, Leonard David has the latest on its farside landing.

[Update a few more minutes later]

Meanwhile, Mark Whittington continues to fear the yellow menace:

The landing is a remarkable achievement. It illustrates Beijing’s burning ambition to become the supreme superpower on Earth, in part by conquering space. India and a private group in Israel are planning their own moon landings early in 2019. NASA is due to sponsor commercial lunar landings as part of President Trump’s return to the moon initiative in the next year or so.

The prize of the new space race is the moon’s natural resources and control of the high frontier for all practical purposes.

The moon is a big place. No one nation is going to dominate it. And it’s a long way from a robotic lander, regardless of which side it lands on, to a lunar base.

Mark continues to operate under the delusion that we can (or should) do Apollo again. Lunar resources will be developed privately, if at all. It certainly won’t happen by a government that has elections every two years.

[Update a while later]

No, James Andrew Lewis, America is about to take back human spaceflight. And in fact it is China that is “repeating what U.S. space programs did in the sixties.”

[Saturday-afternoon update]

Sigh. Here’s another one:

The development is especially shocking because China’s space program seems to have come out of nowhere. And in some sense it has. Whereas NASA was formed in 1958, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) was founded in 1993.

During the past quarter-century, however, CNSA has made up for lost time – illustrating in classic, tortoise-versus-hare fashion that slow and steady wins the race. Today, despite its belated start, CNSA boasts a robust astronaut (taikonaut) program, an operational space station (Tiangong-2), and a whopping thirty-eight rocket launches in 2018 – more than any other country.

Even though it’s generally quite secretive, CNSA is very open about its intention to land taikonauts on the moon by the late 2020s or early 2030s, with an eye to colonizing the moon shortly thereafter. The United States and Russia have made similar declarations. But all things considered – especially now, in the wake of Chang’e 4’s spectacular success – China must be considered the frontrunner.

As Jeff Foust noted on Twitter, it’s only “shocking” and “seems to have come out of nowhere,’ if you weren’t paying attention. And no, China should not be considered the “frontrunner.” Landing a rover on the moon, even on the farside, is neither a necessary or sufficient condition to land human there.