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SSI Space Manufacturing Conference: International, Legal and Economic Issues

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
October 31, 2010
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International, Legal and Economic Considerations
Chairman: Brad Blair

“Mining Law and Property Rights for Outer Space”
Wayne White, Oceaneering Space Systems

“Economic Incentives and Tax Credits for Space Resource Development”
Eva Jane Lark, BMO Nesbitt Burns

“The ILO as Property Rights Agent”
Steve Durst, International Lunar Observatory Association and Space Age Publishing Company

“3D Metal Printing in Space: Enabling New Markets and Accelerating the Growth of Orbital Infrastructure”
Jason Dunn, Aaron Kemmer, Michael Chen, David Hutchinson and Brad Blair — Made in Space

“Mining Law and Property Rights for Outer Space”
Wayne White, Oceaneering Space Systems

–the more space law is similar to terrestrial law, the easier it is for lawyers to advise their clients
— Outer Space Treaty

  • Prohibits territorial sovereignty
  • OST is a general statement of principles; more detailed laws and regulations are required to govern private space activities
  • Nothing to stop private companies from going out and settling space
  • UN Committee on Peaceful Uses of Space (COPUOS) operates on basis of consensus — very difficult to obtain

— 1979 Moon Treaty banned real property rights and heavily regulated resource appropriation
— only 13 countries have signed Moon Treaty (not U.S. and other space-faring nations)
— Agreement governing ISS is useful but none of the partners would negotiate something like it again
— U.S. policy is not focused on resource extraction but that policy could change
— UN charter actually provides a mechanism for peaceful transition to self government — space colonies will probably want to be independent, self governing….
— U.S. can enact legislation that provides incentives for private activities while still remaining autonomous
— The U.S. can coordinate effort with allies to promote international acceptance, cooperation and collaboration
— Law of the Sea Treaty has provisions for paying to mine ocean resources
— U.S. never signed Law of the Sea Treaty, but it coordinated legislation with allies governing that area

“Economic Incentives and Tax Credits for Space Resource Development”
Eva Jane Lark, BMO Nesbitt Burns

— Pre-purchase agreement like the one that Solaren has with PG&E on solar power satellites is very valuable — you can get a loan from the bank based upon it
— Ansari X Prize — another economic incentive
— cheap reliable access to space is a deal breaker — no CRATS, no bucks
— NASA’s is changing its approach to incentives

  • Centennial Challenges
  • COTS

— Other examples:  Oklahoma tax credits to Rocketplane (FAIL) and Sen. Bill Nelson proposing tax incentives for business to move to Florida
— SPSP — production/investment credits, carbon credits/offsets/RECS, rebate offers, etc.
— Canadian Oil and Gas Exploration

  • “flow-through” shares  with two tax credits (CEE and ITCE)
  • CEE = Canadian Exploration Expense — 100 percent write off of the investment ($10,000/$10,000)
  • ITCE = Investment Tax Credit for Exploration – Another 15 percent on top of investment ($10,000 + $1,500 = $11,500)
  • Packaged for small investors
  • Achieve multiple policy goals — help get small investors in, develop marginal lost
  • Mineral property right structure — don’t own the land, own the mineral rights
  • Excellent analog for developing moon, asteroids, etc.

“The ILO as Property Rights Agent”
Steve Durst, International Lunar Observatory Association and Space Age Publishing Company

— International Lunar Observatory has goal to create a permanent astrophysical observation and commercial communications systems at the lunar south pole

  • precursor mission to moon
  • astrophysical observatory
  • human mission to service polar base

— ILO serve as property rights agent
— individual property-land ownership is fundamental human right
— 10 billion acres on the moon, not counting crater slopes
— individual claim of lunar/multi-world acreage has same justification and rationale as individual claim to right to vote
— Precursor mission is teamed up with several Google Lunar X Prize competitors — telescope to the moon — being built here in Silicon Valley — working with Bob Richards
— Looking to open ILOA to more participation — observation, communication, education, etc.

“3D Metal Printing in Space: Enabling New Markets and Accelerating the Growth of Orbital Infrastructure”
Jason Dunn  — Made in Space

— 3D printers will revolutionize space
— let’s move manufacturing out to space — why build it on Earth then have to put it into a small payload shroud and subject it to 10 minutes of launch stress to put it into space
— unfortunately, we haven’t made much progress on that over the decades
— 3D printing can make parts and equipment
— can print parts and tools on demand
— can print parts specifically designed for use in space
— launch manufacturing materials, not parts
— excessive weight and waste built into space vehicles now in order to survive launch stresses
— fewer spare parts and recycle materials for use as feedstock for new parts
— ISS has a billion dollars worth of spare parts — heavy and costly to launch to space
— 3D printers on moon and asteroids — can be used to print tools, factories
— Asteroid and lunar resources can be used in the 3D printers — for Mars missions as well — could greatly reduce costs
— Made in Space created as a result of Singularity University session this past summer
— Made in Space focused on three goals:

  • microgravity research flights
  • adapt 3D printers for space-based applications
  • fly 3D printer to ISS

One response to “SSI Space Manufacturing Conference: International, Legal and Economic Issues”

  1. Paul Fernhout says:

    While I’m sorry I could not attend, here is a page with two links to my presentation and slides from the 2001 SSI conference, and which connects to Jason Dunn’s points about 3D printing, and seems only more and more timely: 🙂
    “A Review of Licensing and Collaborative Development with Special Attention to Design of Self-Replicating Space Habitat Systems”
    “The continued exponential growth of technological capacity since the 1970s has removed most technical limits to group collaborations on space settlement issues. To remove social limits, groups must be explicit about the licensing terms of individual contributions and the collected work, for example putting their contributions in the public domain, or under a license like the BSD license or GPL as a conscious act. The most successful space related collaborations in the future will be ones that make these principles part of their daily operations. One result of such collaborations will be a distributed library of simulations and knowledge including specific detailed designs for self-replicating space habitat systems.”

    I’ve since tried to pursue related ideas with OSCOMAK, OpenVirgle and Open Manufacturing. I myself have not got much traction with OSCOMAK. But it is very heartening to see a big Maker movement, Open Hardware movement, Open Manufacturing movement, the Green Design movement, or whatever one wants to call aspects of a broad push to better designs that are discussed by communities in an open way and connect to ideas about sustainability and bootstrapping, as well as other specific projects and communities like SKDB, Thingiverse, RepRap, MakerBot, Appropedia, Wikipedia, BFI initiatives, NIST’s SLIM project, and so on that connect with all this.

    Still, SSI was there early on with the “SSI Matrix” project, even if that ran into difficulties. Related to that one can google on my essay: “An Open Letter to All Grantmakers and Donors On Copyright And Patent Policy In a Post-Scarcity Society”.

    Also, I think the broader SSI vision is ever more important in an age where powerful tools of abundance like rockets, robotics, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and atomic energy are being wielded by people still obsessed with fighting over scarcity like land, goods, raw materials, food, and oil that those technologies of abundance could produce in vast quantities if we worked together from an abundance paradigm. Google also on my essay: “Recognizing irony is key to transcending militarism”.

    So it is good to see that the message continues to spread about the potential abundance and alternative socioeconomic structures that can result from either advanced technology or the use of space resources (and especially if used together).

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