Settling the Final Frontier: The ORBIS Lease and the Possibilities of Proprietary Communities in Space
Our newest working paper by Alexander Salter on space governance.
The law and economics of space policy has recently become an important research area. In this paper I contribute to the literature on legal frameworks for outer space activities, and specifically space settlement. Article II of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty forbids the extension of state territorial jurisdiction to outer space. Barring revision of this fundamental tenet of international space law, rules for human conduct in space must come from somewhere other than states. I propose privately owned and operated communities (proprietary communities) as a model for space settlement and residence. I survey the mechanisms that make such communities likely to supply good governance. I also explore a model lease for such proprietary communities: the ORBIS lease, drawn up by famed scholar of proprietary communities Spencer MacCallum. I conclude by discussing why the voluntarist model would be expected to outperform other models, as well as implications for state policy.