A Global Inheritance: Who “Owns” Space?


A War and Peace article entitled “Who Owns Space?” writer Kevin Sanders takes on the question of which nation/group has authority over space. Taking on Alex Lightman, Sanders cites against the Kennedy School of Government graduate by arguing the case against the U.S. Though his specific arguments were flawed at times, citing acts committed by previous administration and thus having nothing to do with those in place now or in the future, Sanders does state some key points that deserve merit.

Fundamentally, Sanders is against U.S. authority in space. An alternative to U.S. authority is U.N. authority, which as Lightman rightly argues is a poor option since the “UN’s treaties are unenforceable.”  The U.N. has proved useless in this world. There’s nothing to suggest it’d be more capable in other environments.

Sanders also mentions Lightman stating that “the U.S. is the society most deserving of replication,” with which he disagrees. While the statement holds a degree of truth, while it’s true that the U.S. has a great many qualities in need of replication, I think the issue is beyond replicating society.  The issue is dominion.

I’d have to agree with Carol Rosin, director of the Institute for Security and Cooperation in Outer Space, who Sanders quotes  as saying “’The only alternative to weaponization of the inner solar system is a verifiable treaty to ban all weapons in space, combined with an international space program to convert the war mentality to a mentality of global cooperation.’ And as the late science writer, Isaac Asimov once said, ‘Every nation should be involved in the space program, even if it only to provide the paper clips.’”

This should be the real focus of space exploration, at least in its beginning stages.  The issue of dominion over space shows we’re outdated in our thinking, as if hoisting a flag on a country or planet really makes it yours – or that just because you have the most technology out there in space, you somehow have more rights over it.

What’s next, who owns the Milkway? This galaxy can belong to the Americans, the next to the Chinese?  Thinking you could actually own or somehow possess space is an unfortunate and unrealistic mindset, especially if we consider that other life forms may have their own ideas and would certainly see us as unevolved if we still fought over something that should be of a global inheritance like common apes throwing modern day sticks and stones in an effort to control and possess the surrounding environment.

Who’s to say that the U.N. owns space, and what right does America or any other country have to ‘control’ the heavens?  If the idea of ownership is the prevailing logic of scientific minds, then in that case, I declare that I own space.  Ridiculous? No more so than anyone else’s claim on it.

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