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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Frontier Society : perpetuation and misrepresentation of humankind in outer space policy Blomfield, Hugo Dunon


In January 2004, President George W. Bush announced a renewal of American space policy that encouraged the United States to return to the Moon by the year 2020 and thereafter proceed to Mars with human exploratory missions. This plan calls for NASA to lead a sustained human presence that would not only explore space, but also facilitate the growth of a burgeoning commercial space-based industry. This announcement was widely supported by the 1 international space community, a loosely affiliated group of people strongly bound by a persistent enthusiasm for the extraterrestrial extension of human settlement. The space environment however, is a peculiar legal and political domain ultimately governed by international treaties written at the United Nations. According to the UN, space is considered a 'global commons' whose use and development should only occur for the benefit of all humanity and future generations. The United States on the other hand, supports a worldview that, similar to its own settling sees the space environment as unclaimed territory whose development is open to whoever can face its challenges. By conducting an extensive literature review of international space treaties, United States civilian and military space policy documents, and the diverse opinions of the space community, this thesis exposes the conflicting worldviews for the use of outer space, ultimately highlighting the dangers to human sustainability of the competitive growth oriented paradigm. Plans for space exploitation expressing this worldview are critiqued using a set of principles developed to reflect the characteristics of more relevant space policy, with long-term human survivability as its fundamental purpose. Based on these principles, three scenarios depicting two possible and one preferable future are presented. These stories give the reader a realistic projection of potential directions that human expansion into space may follow. Ultimately, the preeminence of national sovereignty makes it virtually impossible to guide space activities for the benefit of all humankind and its future generations. Until humanity as an entity can be represented in the formulation of space policy, the regulatory environment of space will allow Earth's most powerful nations to project economic superiority. This expansionist worldview will ultimately undermine the Earth's ability to sustain human civilization.

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