Broadcast 3462 Rand Simberg

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Guest: Rand Simberg;  Topics:  Socialism in space, space property rights, The Moon Treat, planetary protection, multilateral agreements over treaties and more.

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We welcomed Rand Simberg back as our guest for a two segment 90 minute wide ranging policy discussion with a focus on socialism and the possibilities of socialists being in charge of our space program, Moon Treaty issues, the use of multilateral agreements (MLA) to help assure space property rights and much more.  We started our discussion with a focus on the article by our guest in the Feb. 2020 issues of Reason Magazine, "Socialists In Space: Opening a frontier is hard. It's even harder when you're a socialist."  There is a link to this article on our blog but here it is again:  Note that Mr. Simberg wrote the article Jan. 12, 2020.  In addition, as I said on air, if a listener wants time on The Space Show to advocate a different position or perspective regarding socialism in space, I will be happy to put such a person on The Space Show for a sort of "equal time" presentation.  If you are that person, please email me at so we can discuss the matter.  Remember, I am more than happy to provide time on The Space Show for listeners and others to present opposing views on controversial and important space related matters.  Please keep in mind that at TSS, we do our best to avoid partisan politics though when it is unavoidable as was the case with this program, I am more than happy to provide programming for the opposite view with a qualified guest.

We started the discussion by my asking Rand about his article on Socialists in Space.  Rand said he wrote it at the request of the editor of Reason.  Listen to the story which explained the genesis of the article. While we spent time discussing it, Rand said he was not that concerned about socialism taking over in space even if one of the more socialistic candidates were to win the presidency because he thought the action was with the private sector, not NASA or the government.  Be sure to listen carefully to all of what Rand had to say on this topic.  At one point I cautioned him on private sector space actors staying strong if new economic and tax provisions came into being that significantly dampened or altered economic growth and liquidity.  Rand did concur with my short statement though neither of us said that was a certainty or pointed to specific campaign rhetoric/policy that would bring such changes about.

Rand quickly moved to areas of interest where he is working to make a different.  The main areas of focus for the remaining discussion included the Moon Treaty which still remains a viable UN treaty and the development use of multilateral agreements between likeminded nations to create marketable property rights in space.  Make sure you understand what Rand meant by marketable property rights as he believes the one should get title, be able to borrow against such title, sell the title or inherit the title.  He mentioned many countries interested in this plus he said it would be based on but not exclusive to English Common Law.  At one point during the discussion, he thought what might eventually emerge were guiding policies jointly agreed to by the UK and the US.

Rand received several emails from listeners about the Moon Treaty, Artemis, Starship, Starlink and overcoming light pollution, his property rights argument, and more.  Several callers also asked him questions.  In addition, Rand talked about delivering a paper at the recent IAC meeting last fall in the Washington, DC area which has been linked in this summary plus it is on the blog.  He talked about the IAC reaction and many of the highlight points in his paper.  Rand also mentioned disagreement with what he said by others at IAC, especially over the topic of space as a commons which Rand does not support.  Be sure you listen to all of what Rand said about his IAC presentation, plus I suggest you read the paper.  In response to other questions, Rand suggested the government would not be pushing us forward with space, instead the private sector would be doing that. 

Space governance was another area of interest for the discussion.  The ISS was talked about in this light given ongoing commentary by some about privatizing the station.  Some listeners wanted to know what Rand thought would be the governance model if the ISS went private. Later, a listener asked about the governance model for Artemis or a lunar outpost by the government and the transferred to the private sector. 

Marshall called to talk about defending the Moon, China and its lunar plans, Bigelow and the Moon and the importance of multilateral agreements.  Don't miss what Rand said in response to Marshall's questions and comments.  Rand then said what was needed were rules for orbital habs such as an O'Neilian colony.  He said there were no orbital rules but this was important.  He talked about problems with Article 6 of the OST for being on orbit.  Tim called about Starlink issues congesting and lighting up LEO.  He thought astronomers might work out a deal for space based telescopes BLEO. 

The second segment followed my reading sponsor messages at break time.  To kick off this segment, Rand talked about near term space property rights, the ability to borrow against the title and more and the creation of multilateral agreements to facilitate this type of marketable title.  This brought up OST language about not owning celestial objects.  During our discussion, Rand said there was no clear definition of a celestial body so he gave us his version of the definition that should be out there for a celestial body.  Listen carefully, then tell us what you think by posting on the blog. 

Later in the second segment, Ft. Worth John called to ask why even worry about the Moon Treaty.  John and Rand had a good Moon Treaty discussion which you will want to hear.  Your thoughts on the meaning of a celestial body and a title of ownership?

Moving through this segment, Becky sent in an email about Artemis.  Rand had much to say about the program, referring to better and more economic ways to get to the Moon.  Before we ended, Rand took a look for us at the rest of 2020.  He also provided us with a short summary of where different countries and national space agencies were on the MLA and related approach.

Please post your comments/questions for Rand Simberg and this show on our blog.  You can reach Mr. Simberg through me at The Space Show or through his site, and the Competitive Institute regarding his IAC paper.




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16 Feb 2020 Rand Simberg
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