One small step for making business on the Moon a new economic sphere? Credit: NASA

One small step for making business on the Moon a new economic sphere?
Credit: NASA

The FAA’s Office of the Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation (AST) has given thumbs-up regarding private sector operations on the Moon.

In a December 22 letter to Bigelow Aerospace, the FAA’s AST — in consultation with the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and other federal agencies, including NASA and NOAA – “is prepared to support Bigelow Aerospace’s trailblazing initiative.”

The letter is in response to a Bigelow Aerospace “payload review” tied to commercial development of the Moon.

Protect assets and personnel

The FAA/AST letter, obtained by Inside Outer Space, encourages the private space firm to continue to invest in the development of Bigelow Aerospace’s lunar habitat to support public and private sector activities.

“Moreover, we recognize the private sector’s need to protect its assets and personnel on the Moon or on other celestial bodies,” the FAA AST letter explains. “Supporting non-interference for private sector operations will enhance safety and only add to the long history of preserving ownership interests in hardware and equipment.”

Ill-equipped regulatory framework

Furthermore, the letter explains that the Department of State’s fundamental concern is that the national regulatory framework, in its present form, is “ill-equipped” to enable the U.S. Government to fulfill its obligations under the Outer Space Treaty with respect to private sector activities on the Moon or other celestial bodies.

Space entrepreneur, Robert Bigelow (left) explains company's plans for commercial operations on the Moon. Credit: Bigelow Aerospace/Leonard David Archives

Space entrepreneur, Robert Bigelow (left) explains company’s plans for commercial operations on the Moon.
Credit: Bigelow Aerospace/Leonard David Archives

“This response represents one small step for Bigelow Aerospace and one giant leap for lunar development,” said Mike Gold, Director of Washington, D.C. Operations & Business Growth for Bigelow Aerospace, LLC.

Economic growth

In 2013, after completing a Space Act Agreement on behalf of NASA to identify potential next steps for commercial space development, Bigelow Aerospace determined that the best destination for future private and public sector activities is the Moon.

Unlike asteroids or Mars, Bigelow Aerospace believes that the Moon has the potential to support near-term opportunities for economic growth.

“As is the case with any new frontier, prospects remain uncertain, but the Moon offers a variety of minerals and resources that could support mining or other forms of commercial operations,” adds Gold. “Bigelow Aerospace sees its role in lunar development as the historic equivalent of the Hudson Bay Company, providing the necessary habitats, equipment, and transportation for entrepreneurs to execute their business plans. Bigelow Aerospace wants to enable individuals, companies, and countries to transform the Moon into a dynamic arena for imagination and innovation.”

Beginning of a process

Does the FAA now have jurisdiction over the Moon? Does this letter fully resolve the legal vacuum that has existed for low Earth orbit (LEO) and beyond LEO commercial operations?

“This is the beginning of a process, not the end,” Gold said. “This response represents a first step by the AST to use what authority it has to create a safe and attractive environment for commercial lunar development. The first step is always the most challenging, and we’re grateful to the FAA AST and their colleagues at the Department of State for this decision.”

 

3 Responses to “Giving the Moon the Business: U.S. FAA Backs Bigelow”

  • David Heck says:

    The Next Giant Leap !! International Lunar Research Park like Mike Marlaire’s NRP !

  • greg says:

    sort the shit out on tis earth first with out polluting the moon with human corruption and filth

  • Wojtek says:

    greg “sort the shit out on tis earth first ” -> please tell me how You would like to do that ? How to stop wars in 3-world regions (in most of cases, wars are also reasons of starvation), how to make China respect human rights, how to convince North Korea leaders to go to democracy ?
    I think, it is easy to talk like this – but how to do that?
    When Kolumb started his journey to America, situation in Europe was very similar to toad state in poor regions of Africa. There are some publications, how the discovery of new lands has helped to change situations in lots of 17 & 18 century Europe.
    Please also google a little about details of this article – it’s also about resources extraction.

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