Issue #4(26) 2020 Astronautics

Supporting sustainable lunar development

Michael Castle-Miller Politas Consulting, Los Angeles CA, USA

Within the coming decade, organisations – both public and private – from various countries will carry out operations on the Moon. The infrastructure that allows them to do this will be vital and, in this article, Michael Castle-Miller presents the Lunar Development Cooperative as a potential solution that would allow them to all work cooperatively and mutually benefit from the Moon’s resources.

The settlement of the Moon, and space more broadly, will be one of the most transformative steps in the history of our species. Ultimately it has the potential to transform our relationship with Earth by moving much energy production, mining and heavy industry off the planet, allowing us to greatly slow the effects of climate change and restore biodiversity. It will also transform the way we think about our own humanity and shared responsibility to each other and to nature, if phenomena like the overview effect are any indication. The future of Earth depends on our future in space.

The frameworks we establish now to support the settlement of space will have an incalculable effect on whether and how this transformation takes hold in future generations. Service delivery is a crucial component to these frameworks. If services are either unaffordable or exclusive, then space may become the province of only a few rich and powerful individuals and nations, and we will fail to realise the full benefits space offers.

The key to making services for space settlement affordable and inclusive lies in effectively channelling the economic rents resulting from activities in space. ‘Economic rents’ are increases to a person’s wealth that are caused by other people’s productive activities, rather than by the efforts of the person whose wealth grows. On Earth, if a city builds good infrastructure, schools and services in a neighborhood, property will increase in value, making the owners there the beneficiary of economic rents. They did not earn this extra wealth, but they can cash in anyway.

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