The cosmos is quietly being commercialized and weaponized | What's Left

The United States has recently adopted a law granting rights to private companies to mine asteroids and similar celestial objects. It may sound small and far-fetched, but this law is a sharp change in the historical approach to space governance and regulation – one that has dire consequences.

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The commercialization of space has been publicly argued against by almost every single scientist and explorer involved in its study. Great effort went into building and signing international treaties – even between super-powers bent on each other’s destruction – protecting the neutral commons of space. Put simply, commercialization would mean the eventual weaponization of space since profit-driven companies would “need” to protect their “valuable” property rights. This weaponization of space (state or commercial) is justifiably frightening.

By definition, space is all encompassing. It surrounds the Earth and allows those who control it an unprecedented level of power over communication, transportation, and numerous other daily activities many take for granted. Because space is limitless, the battle for power and control will be similarly unending. With finite resources being invested in an infinite endeavour, the impact for those living on earth will be devastating.

Unfortunately, with ongoing cuts in public funding for space exploration and space-related services, there has been a rapid growth in direct private sector involvement in the space industry. The fact that there is such private-sector excitement should be a warning in itself. The natural extensions of this private sector power grab: more lobbying and more demands for states to eliminate their own scientific programs and instead “invest” in the ridiculous schemes of the private sector (mainly to ensure that private corporations won’t lose any of their own money).

Space is the ultimate commons (and the final frontier). It must be protected from the tragedy of capitalism.

More: Satellite wars