G. Harlan Reynolds advocates a free market approach to space exploration:

If you want settlement, and development, you need to give people an incentive. One possibility, discussed by space enthusiasts for some time, is a property-rights regime modeled on the American West, with land grants for those who actually establish a presence on the Moon or Mars. Some have, of course, derided the idea of a “Wild West” approach to space development, but other people like the idea of a “Moon Rush,” which I suppose could be expanded in time to a “Mars Rush.” [links omitted]

I’m rather agnostic on the whole thing, to be honest, but am quite amused by this rationale:

Could our “cowboy” President get behind a Wild West approach to space settlement? He’d be accused of unilateralism, disrespect for other nations, and, of course, of taking a “cowboy approach” to outer space that’s sure to infuriate other nations who want to be players but who can’t compete along those lines — like, say, the French. Hmm. When you look at it that way, there doesn’t seem to be much doubt about what he’ll do. Does there?


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. melvin toast says:

    I’m to lazy to bother reading the entire article but following the free market approach principle, one has to ask if halliburton has ever lobbied a congressman to grant them property rights? What are they going to do with it?

    Second, isn’t space basically available to commercial companies? Can’t commercial companies figure out ways to fly into space cheaper to make money? I’ve heard of a few companies exploring this but you don’t see Boeing launching their own rockets and charging people for it.

    I think the answer is that like the Concorde, space is basically too expensive for most commercial ventures that you might come up with…