New Paper: Sovereignty on Mars

Sara Bruhns and Jacob Haqq-Misra recently published a paper titled “A pragmatic approach to sovereignty on Mars” in the journal Space Policy. Sara performed this work during her participation in the BMSIS Young Scientist Program. Below is a short summary of this idea.

National space agencies and private corporations have declared plans to send humans to the red planet, with longer-term planets of settlement and resource extraction likely to follow. Such actions may conflict with the Outer Space Treaty, which currently prohibits any sovereign claims in space. In this paper, we develop a practical approach toward allowing the settlement of space and use of its resources through a “bounded first possession” model with a required planetary park system. We suggest that exclusive economic claims could be made without establishing sovereignty on Mars, and we propose a model for management and conflict resolution on Mars that build upon lessons from history. We also recommend revisions to the Outer Space Treaty to resolve the current ambiguity of how nations, corporations, and individuals can use the resources of space.