Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Staking Claims

Space exploration made the news today in a new light: Tech Billionaires Plan Audacious Mission to Mine Asteroids. As exciting as the idea sounds, I wonder how the terrestrial tentacles of future economics/politics will play-out beyond low-earth orbit. Could this undiscovered country awaken another manifest destiny? How would ownership rights be determined? First come first serve?

Consider the following hypothetical situation: Frank, a billionaire Eskimo and mining enthusiast living in the 23rd century is out for a joy ride when he happens upon an unclaimed 13 ton meteor of mostly platinum and iron-nickel. Does he A) ask permission from the nearest government authority or B) hook the meteor up to his trailer hitch and fly straight on till morning? No one really knows. Welcome to the final frontier of real estate where possession is nine tenths of the law - only if you can haul it.