back to article SpaceX small print on Starlink insists no Earth government has authority or sovereignty over Martian activities

SpaceX has ambitions for its Starlink constellation beyond annoying stargazers if the pre-order agreement for its satellite-based internet service is anything to go by. Spotted by Register reader Amarinder Brar during his UK application for the system, an intriguing section in the fine-print warns that disputes related to " …

  1. SotarrTheWizard
    Mushroom

    Don't mess with Mars. . . .

    . . . Or Elon and his pals will pull out an Eludium Pu-38 Explosive Space Modulator. . . .

    . . . .and then there will be an Earth-shattering Kaboom!!! ;)

    1. Goopy

      Re: Don't mess with Mars. . . .

      Or even worse John big booty will install the over thruster!

      1. WonkoTheSane
        Alien

        Re: Don't mess with Mars. . . .

        BigbooTAY! TAY! TAY!

        *bang*

  2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    What a surprise

    Yet again no-one gives a damn about the Belters.

    1. J4

      Re: What a surprise

      Register Faction, sasa-ke ?

      On the topic, while it's fun to poke fun, this is the right approach and completely consistent with Musk's stated goals. Get a topic into the public domain, get people talking about it, thrash something out ahead of time. No point rocking up on Mars and only then start dealing with the Popular People's Front grandstanding.

      1. boblongii

        Re: What a surprise

        "thrash something out ahead of time"

        Well, it has been. In 1967, apparently.

        Of course, your average billionaire thinks laws, international or otherwise, are for little people and assume they can do what they like. They're generally right.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: What a surprise

          Of course, your average billionaire thinks laws, international or otherwise, are for little people and assume they can do what they like. They're generally right.

          Except when it comes to the laws of physics, or economics. Then Musk is frequently wrong. But still a billionaire, so still doing something right I guess. But-

          SpaceX boss Elon Musk is not messing about, and he'll have the keys to the airlock after all. Still, "disputes will be settled through self-governing principles, established in good faith, at the time of Martian settlement."

          AFAIK, Musk isn't planning to be a space pioneer any time soon, so will be on firmer terror. Which leaves the keys to any airlocks in the hands of any Martian, or hacker. But I suspect that although there are treaties, they'll be quietly ignored as colonies are established and resource competition moves to the high frontier. The US already had plans to create a military base on the Moon, complete with modified claymores and Davy Crockett nuclear bazookas for defence.

          1. Wellyboot Silver badge

            Re: What a surprise

            >>>Military base<<<

            That sounds like very 60's planning, were they expecting a soviet moon tank division to justify all the effort of keeping mini nukes in the place?

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: What a surprise

              Well.. It's declassified now, and strangely fascinating reading-

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Horizon

              Horizon was estimated to require 147 early Saturn A-1 rocket launches to loft spacecraft components for assembly in low Earth orbit at a spent-tank space station. A lunar landing-and-return vehicle launched on a Saturn A-2 would have shuttled up to 16 astronauts at a time to the base and back.

              60 years later, guessing it'd probably still need that kind of number of launches given the logistics iinvolved in setting up and maintaining a fully operational battle station. And I guess for choice of location, how likely those choices would be complared to modern plans & ideally having local resources to cut down on the number.

          2. Allan George Dyer
            Paris Hilton

            Re: What a surprise

            @Jellied Eel - "complete with modified claymores and Davy Crockett nuclear bazookas"

            Are the claymores anti-personnel mines, Scottish swords, or both? I'm imagining Highlander in Spaaace.

            OTOH, Davy Crockett's Nuclear Bazookas sound like a classic porn film title.

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: What a surprise

              Are the claymores anti-personnel mines, Scottish swords, or both? I'm imagining Highlander in Spaaace.

              Hmm.. Best not go there. Highlander II did, sadly. Proof that an imagination can be a terrible thing. As could 2-h swords in space. On the plus side, Landsknechts in space may not fall foul of Game's Workshop lawyers, and carrying a zweihander might not be as tiring. But inertia would still be FUN, although firing off attitude thrusters & spinning in place(ish) with a large sword could be used for crowd control and attitude adjustment. I get the feeling alternatives may be more practical though, ie a stiletto for puncturing suits.

              But the claymores were the good'ol anti-personnel mines. With some modifications to the fragments to apparently make them more effective. Can't remember if the declassified stuff went into details about how or why though.

              OTOH, Davy Crockett's Nuclear Bazookas sound like a classic porn film title.

              Product of a Cold War era and possibly lax budget controls. Perhaps a bit more useful on the Moon though as presumably it'd fly further and thus less risky for the folks firing it. But I'm now wondering if super-elevating it could result in the recoil/back-blast sending the firer sailing off in the general direction of the warhead..

          3. gkwest

            Re: What a surprise

            “ The US already had plans to create a military base on the Moon”

            But the Nazis have already had one since 1945, just check out Iron Sky.

            1. Scott Pedigo
              Gimp

              After You've Checked Out "Iron Sky"...

              have a look for "Mad Heidi" and check out the teaser.

              The tentative plans are to start filming this fall in Switzerland.

            2. dr john

              Re: What a surprise

              And don't miss Iron sky - The Dictator's Cut

              1. WonkoTheSane

                Re: What a surprise

                Also the sequel Iron Sky 2: The Coming Race (2019)

            3. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: What a surprise

              "But the Nazis have already had one since 1945"

              No, not Iron Sky, the definitive report is "Rocketship Galileo"

              1. JetSetJim Silver badge
                Thumb Up

                Re: What a surprise

                RAH FTW

        2. Muppet Boss Bronze badge
          Trollface

          Re: What a surprise

          >Well, it has been. In 1967, apparently.

          >Of course, your average billionaire thinks laws, international or otherwise, are for little people and assume they can do what they like. They're generally right.

          Elon Musk was born in 1971, this old Treaty apparently cannot apply to him, correctamundo? There is no way he could have even signed it! From a fan.

        3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: What a surprise

          "Well, it has been. In 1967, apparently."

          That treaty, although it talks about commercial use of space and stellar bodies, didn't really properly consider actual, independent commercial operations in space. I get the impression they were still thinking multi-billion dollar government based operations doing mining and stuff. While corporate space operations are tied to Earth, the treaty can be enforced. But what happens if or when there are self-sustaining operations out there?

        4. EnviableOne Silver badge

          Re: What a surprise

          are you not aware of Murphys golden rule?

          Being the one with the most Gold in his pile, Elon has the rule making privileges, previously held by Jeff and before that Bill

      2. don't you hate it when you lose your account Silver badge

        Re: What a surprise

        Me thinks he should think before he speaks. How much did his mouth just lose him on crypto trading :0

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: What a surprise

          The treaty makes signatory Earth governments responsible for the actions of their citizens. Someone born on Mars wouldn't necessarily be a citizen of any Earth government.

          For sure, a birth on Mars is further in the future / less likely than a mission to Mars - but only by degrees.

          1. NeilPost Silver badge

            Re: What a surprise

            Well won’t BoJo just in a limited and specific way just ignore the International (Space) Law.

            .....After-all UK Govt has a 50% stake in Starlink competitor OneWeb.

            Musk can go fuck his Mars Republic nonsense, and stop his Proto-molecule research as well.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How much did his mouth just lose him on crypto trading :0

          at the same time, how much did bitcoin gain in value AFTER Musk/Tesla bought 5bn of bitcoins, or something...

      3. rg287 Silver badge

        Re: What a surprise

        On the topic, while it's fun to poke fun, this is the right approach and completely consistent with Musk's stated goals.

        It raises a smiles, but on the flip side - SpaceX is a US Corporation which operates and launches from US soil, and when transmitting to UK users, they require spectrum licensed by Ofcom.

        If Martian settlements choose to declare an independent Martian Congress then that's up to them and having a sample constitution isn't a bad idea.

        But none of that has any bearing whatsoever on a constellation in Earth-LEO, operated by an Earth corporation.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          My thoughts exactly. Any corporation based on Mars is absolutely outside of Earth dominion, but as long as your ass is on Earth, you are very much subject to Earth law, even if your activities are outside of Earth's atmosphere.

          So, Elon, when are you moving to Mars ?

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            And yet if you are in the UK you can still be extradited for crimes committed in the US..

            Something doesn't add up there.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Or even if you didn't commit any crime...

          2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      4. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: What a surprise

        Seems Musk is inspired by the East India Trading Company, but it needs more than writing it into the EULA to make it happen.

      5. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge
        Joke

        Re: What a surprise

        Are you speaking of the Martian People's Front or the People's Front of Mars?

        1. rg287 Silver badge

          Re: What a surprise

          Splitter!

        2. SotarrTheWizard
          Trollface

          Re: What a surprise

          . . .and are they sending their crack Suicide Squad ??

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What a surprise

        Popular People's Front?

        Splitters!!

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: What a surprise

      "Yet again no-one gives a damn about the Belters."

      What are you talking about? The Belt has authority over Mars. Any Earth based organization has to get Belt permission to even orbit, much less land.

  3. Eclectic Man Silver badge
    Alien

    Rama continued

    SPOILER ALERT

    In the continuation of the Rendezvous with Rama series, I recall that the Earthlings bound for a new colony on Mars were actually sent to an alien spaceship which took them on an interstellar trip, never to return to Earth. Does Elon know something we don't?

    end SPOILER ALERT

    1. MrBanana Silver badge

      Re: Rama continued

      "Does Elon know something we don't?"

      Elon is obviously setting up his exit strategy. He has been amongst us long enough to study our weaknesses, and to formulate an invasion plan. He now just needs to set up a rendezvous with the mothership to make his way home. Why not Mars as the landing site?

      1. SotarrTheWizard
        Alien

        Re: Rama continued

        The question is. . . . is Elon vulnerable to the Indian Love Song, as performed by Slim Whitman ?? Or has he been developing an immunity ??

        1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Re: Rama continued

          What I forgot to say was that specifying the absence of Earthly law on Mars, or trips thereto, would mean that no one who was hijacked en route, or their relatives back home on Earth, could sue him or his company were anything or anyone to 'go astray' as it were. Although it will be interesting to see what laws the Earthly authorities consider apply.

          As for immunity to anything, I have my Covid-19 Pfizer-BioNtech vaccination tomorrow afternoon :o)

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Rama continued

        "Elon is obviously setting up his exit strategy."

        Yep, when the pyramid collapses, he'll need a really good bolt hole. Mars might just be the minimum.

    2. sawatts

      Re: Rama continued

      Best advice re "Rendezvous with Rama" is to read the original by Arthur C Clarke and diligently ignore any sequels.

  4. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Free mars, a corporate planet?

    Good luck with getting that one accepted by the U-N never mind that any other country landing on Mars will ignore them entirely.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
      Mushroom

      First mpver advantage

      Yes, but while he's the only company who can get people there, he will have a certain leverage. (Cf Facebook vs Australian News.) And once Musk's system is established, well, let's hope he's not building tripods.

  5. Totally not a Cylon
    Headmaster

    Remember 1776 ......

    He has a point.

    After all a relatively small handful of frontiersmen (people for the PC) beat (or at least drew with) one of the foremost military powers.

    Especially as the UN is irrelevant here on Earth so why should it have any effect on Mars?

    Especially as Marsies will play up the 'God of War' aspect of their planet........

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Remember 1776 ......

      Hmm, if Mars does get settled I am sure it will eventually break free of the tyranny of Earthly domination - but.....for a few hundred years the power balance is going to be pretty easily with Earth.

      Oh, you mean you forgot to pack a tin-opener? OK we could send you one.......

      Always assuming that Perseverance doesn't round a corner and find itself served with a writ reminding us that "Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. and being thoroughly up to date - you know it's going to involve lawyers....

      1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Remember 1776 ......

        Doesn't need to round a corner to get issued with a parking ticket.

        You might joke about Martians, but looking at the photos, I see that Perseverance has what appear to be radiation warning signs in certain places. NASA must therefore believe that it will encounter someone who can recognise such a symbol.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Remember 1776 ......

          They built it here on Earth, where they have a legal requirement to put on the radiation warning marks. I'm sure some chips inside it still have serial numbers that are readable too, but they didn't keep those for people exploring Mars in decades to come.

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Remember 1776 ......

      "Especially as the UN is irrelevant here on Earth"

      That's because they don't have Chrisjen Avasarala yet.

    3. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Remember 1776 ......

      "After all a relatively small handful of frontiersmen (people for the PC) beat (or at least drew with) one of the foremost military powers."

      No, that's not what happened. For starters, it was more than a handful. About 250000 American troops served during the course of the war, with 60000-90000 at once. That's small by modern wars, but not very small. Especially as they did not beat the British. They drove the British away, but they didn't conquer Britain or cause it to collapse. They couldn't even take Canada from them despite trying. The reason for their win was that they had resources where the British by and large lacked them. The Americans could operate using local troops and resources, whereas the British had to ferry all their troops over the Atlantic and buy or take resources from Americans who already had them. And let's not forget that French assistance was required to complete the victory.

      In comparison, a Mars trip has all of these reversed. If countries on Earth wish to impose their will on Martian societies, they won't have to do it by sending troops over. The easiest way is to stop sending stuff over. It's much easier for someone on their own to survive on Earth than on Mars, and stuff breaks.

      But let's say this is correct. How does it change how a Martian constitution should work? I find the concept annoying not because I think Mars shouldn't have one, but I think that, if they're going to have one, it should be written by people who established a society and wish to remain on Mars. Not by some random company which builds vehicles. It's like saying that the U.S. Constitution should have been written by shipwrights in Europe who would eventually bring people over, for the moment ignoring the native population of the Americas because everyone at the time did. They have no right to assert sovereignty.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Remember 1776 ......

        "it should be written by people who established a society and wish to remain on Mars"

        Exactly this. There should be some Earthian rules that apply to going to Mars and exploiting resources on the planet during these explorations, as well as sorting out what happens when there's a punch up between rival rovers.

        But the moment Mars can be considered as being colonised (as in, people there who wish to stay), it is they who should decide what sort of legal framework and constitution should apply, without interference from Earth (either by government or by corporations).

        1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: Remember 1776 ......

          Hold on, isn't colonisation double-plus ultimate evil nowadays? Saxons out of Angland! Angland for the Angles!

          1. rg287 Silver badge

            Re: Remember 1776 ......

            Hold on, isn't colonisation double-plus ultimate evil nowadays? Saxons out of Angland! Angland for the Angles!

            USA out of Puerto Rico! No taxation without representation!

        2. Fr. Ted Crilly

          Re: Remember 1776 ......

          cough..Dorsa Brevia Declaration...cough cough

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Remember 1776 ......

            Dorsa Brevia? Bunch of hippie utopians to my eye.

      2. Paul Herber Silver badge

        Re: Remember 1776 ......

        Let's have any putative Martian constitution be written by the nation that first colonises the place, so that'll probably be China. Happy?

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Remember 1776 ......

        "It's like saying that the U.S. Constitution should have been written by shipwrights in Europe who would eventually bring people over, for the moment ignoring the native population of the Americas because everyone at the time did. They have no right to assert sovereignty."

        I get your point, but the analogy falls over when you think about who paid for/patronised the voyages to found the colonies. It wasn't the shipwrights or ship owners. It was governments.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Remember 1776 ......

          I think the analogy still stands. Spacex is a shipwright. Current governments are like the colonizers. Neither has a right to decide unilaterally what the law for those who live there should be. If one has more right, it is the governments because that's where the people are now. Spacex though ... it just builds ships. It should stop trying to assume authority it doesn't deserve.

          1. rg287 Silver badge

            Re: Remember 1776 ......

            I think the analogy still stands. Spacex is a shipwright. Current governments are like the colonizers. Neither has a right to decide unilaterally what the law for those who live there should be.

            Ah well, SpaceX isn't just the shipwright. They'll also be operating the trips - as if White Star Line had built their own liners instead of contracting to H&W.

            In the early days, the ships will be the first-generation habitats and the Captain will have ultimate authority over the crew & colonists. They and whoever pays their salary (NASA, SpaceX, the Mormons) will determine the law.

            Once the colony is more than a couple of ship's worth of course, you start to get into an autonomous collective.

            1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

              Re: Remember 1776 ......

              Once the colony is more than a couple of ship's worth of course, you start to get into an autonomous collective.

              You're fooling yourself! We're living in a dictatorship! A self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working classes ...

              1. A K Stiles

                Re: Remember 1776 ......

                Come and see the violence inherent in the system!

                1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                  Re: Remember 1776 ......

                  "Come and see the violence inherent in the system!"

                  Nah, it's on PPV. I'm sit in my unders with snacks and beer and watch it on the telly.

              2. lowwall

                Re: Remember 1776 ......

                Do some more, it's the funniest extended piece of movie dialogue of all time. Here's a link for the entire thing: https://sluggerotoole.com/2018/04/18/strange-women-lying-in-ponds-distributing-swords-is-no-basis-for-a-system-of-government/

                Apropos of this topic:

                King Arthur: Then who is your lord?

                Peasant Woman: We don’t have a lord.

                King Arthur: What?

                Dennis: I told you, we’re an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We take it in turns to act as sort of executive officer for the week…

                King Arthur: Yes…

                Dennis: …but all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special bi-weekly meeting…

                King Arthur: Yes I see…

                Dennis: …by a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs…

                King Arthur: Be quiet!

                Dennis: …but by a two thirds majority in the case of more…

                King Arthur: Be quiet! I order you to be quiet!

                Peasant Woman: “Order”, eh? Who does he think he is?

                King Arthur: I am your king.

                Peasant Woman: Well, I didn’t vote for you.

                Of course we know how it's all going to end:

                Arthur: [shakes Dennis] Shut up!

                Dennis: Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system! Help, help, I’m being repressed!

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Remember 1776 ......

            "Spacex though ... it just builds ships"

            As for big rockets, they just build bombs right now.

      4. rg287 Silver badge

        Re: Remember 1776 ......

        In comparison, a Mars trip has all of these reversed. If countries on Earth wish to impose their will on Martian societies, they won't have to do it by sending troops over. The easiest way is to stop sending stuff over. It's much easier for someone on their own to survive on Earth than on Mars, and stuff breaks.

        In fairness, that would have worked on the pre-US American colonists too, prior to the foundation of any sort of industry - the Americans either needed gunpowder shipping over or a sufficient mining & industrial base to make their own. Same for entirely basic supplies such as nails or hand tools. Yes they could breathe the air and eat the food (which is a big step), but early pioneers were heavily reliant on the European industrial base for many materials.

        Any comparison between the US War of Independence and an Earth/Martian dispute would only be valid once the Mars colony is at a point where they are substantially homesteading (which is harder than for American pioneers since you can't even breathe the atmosphere on Mars). That's at least 100years down the line. If we consider the European colonisation of America to have started with Jamestown (1607), then it was 168years until the Revolutionary War started in 1775.

        As the Martian industrial base develops (local manufacturing of building materials, some refining of metals, growing self-sufficiency in food, air production, etc) we can expect to see strategic export restrictions on things like clean-room tech, semiconductor manufacturing and photolithography gear - the really high-end stuff you'd need to be a fully independent modern, technological society. In all probability, Mars will have to develop that from (almost) scratch (having poached some engineers). Earth won't sell it to them - just the finished products. But that won't be relevant before 2120 at the earliest.

        1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: Remember 1776 ......

          Sheer fantasy, I'm afraid. There is not the slightest prospect of Mars ever - let alone within a hundred years - having a settlement, economy or industry. There is nothing there worth going for and even at Space X rate the cost of getting a single person there is enormous. The Sahara and Antarctica would be better prospects for colonisation.

          Isaac Asimov was a third rate writer, not a prophet. Sorry.

          1. heyrick Silver badge

            Re: Remember 1776 ......

            "The Sahara and Antarctica would be better prospects for colonisation."

            I think the idea is that since we're doing such a fine job of buggering up this planet... wishful thinking... oh look a whole new planet to break.

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Remember 1776 ......

            Asimov was never a prophet, he was a really good writer of stories.

            I agree that there isn't anything on Mars that's valuable enough to bring back to Earth to pay the costs of going there, never mind coming back as well. It's not even certain how well humans would do in 1/3G. The first generation may wind up with all sorts of health problems that limit forming a second generation that may not come out too well themselves. The fanbois tout 3D printing as the cure for all things, but fail to take into account that they need certain raw materials to feed to the printers. Most 3D printers use petroleum based feedstock. Maybe something can be synthesized, but when a semiconductor expels its magic smoke, there is no way to 3D print another one.

            I'm a big fan of James Burke's "Connections" series. Richard Hammond did one and it's a theme that comes around every so often. It makes me look at the tools you need to make the tools to make the tools to harvest the raw materials that you need to make the tools to make the item you want. I don't know where you'd come up with fibers on Mars to make cloth, but looking at the most primitive weaving loom tells a long story about the thousands of years it took to get there. A huge problem is that everybody's time would be so valuable that a slow manual loom used to make cloth is too expensive.

          3. This post has been deleted by its author

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Member 1776 ......

            True it seems to be, Ian Johnston.

            Bonds. Stocks. Shares.

            The vaults of New Pharaons are overloaded with Crap that won't let'em have the appropriate decisions to save neither kin, nor skin.

            Who is to take care of The Library?

            These dickheads have neither awareness, nor caring intent on the subject.

        2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          Forget 1776 ...... Remember the Future Provides the Present

          Any comparison between the US War of Independence and an Earth/Martian dispute would only be valid once the Mars colony is at a point where they are substantially homesteading (which is harder than for American pioneers since you can't even breathe the atmosphere on Mars). ..... rg287

          And whenever the Earth/Martian dispute is decided in absolute favour of Earth atmosphere breathing Martians with forward operating bases in outer spaces and secured planetary places ?

          Well, ..... then, surely, any and all future talking of disputes with alien sovereigns are tantamount to declarations of war against forces with sources you have no reliable believable knowledge of and against which all and anything spectacularly fails. Heed some extremely sound and even quite presidential advice .... such a crass path is gravely to be regarded. That way leads to whole worlds of the exceedingly bad and the rad and the sad and the mad destroying inequitable gains and creating crushing personal liability pains.

          You have to surely admit, it is a profound arrogance in Earthlings thinking to travel to far off inhospitable alien landing sites, to not realise and imagine that are not alone and not leading future events and crashing systems recoveries with unprecedented novel discoveries/proprietary intellectual property pumps and dumps.

          Thank your lucky stars for the likes of Elon Musks in your midsts.

    4. Dr Scrum Master

      Re: Remember 1776 ......

      A handful of frontiersmen and a French army, and a Spanish army, and some help from the Dutch.

    5. Bliar003

      Re: Remember 1776 ......

      No they didn't. British colonists lead by former British Army officers fought with the "mother country" for their right to maintain slavery, which the latter had de facto outlawed in 1772.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Remember 1776 ......

        Typo there Shirley. 1772 was de jure, it was de facto before the 1500s, with sources for the 1300s.

      2. Fr. Ted Crilly

        Re: Remember 1776 ......

        Did you know, Washington's home 'Mount Vernon' was named by the half brother that served with the British Admiral Vernon. ;-)

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Remember 1776 ......

      After all a relatively small handful of frontiersmen (people for the PC) beat (or at least drew with) one of the foremost military powers.

      Since when things have got steadily worse, ending up with Trump as president, power cuts in Texas for reasons, a collection of sports no one else plays and no healthcare. And the coffee is terrible.

      1. LogicGate

        Re: Remember 1776 ......

        "a collection of sports no one else plays"

        Do you happen to be thinking of the very american sport of "hand-egg"?

  6. iron Silver badge

    > States Parties to the Treaty, shall bear international responsibility for national activities in outer space

    So if activities are not national but are say entirely the responsibility of a company with X in it's name then states party to the treaty bear no responsibility.

    IMO IANAL etc

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      It's fairly clear:

      If a French company sent up a satellite and it bumped into an Australian satellite and damaged it, the other signatories would hold the government of France responsible.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        How do you distinguish that situation from the Australian satellite bumping into the French one?

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          "How do you distinguish that situation from the Australian satellite bumping into the French one?"

          Which one moved last? If the Australian satellite is on a steady course, then the French operators knew it was there. There are big databases of where satellites and other orbiting objects are to prevent exactly that. If the French satellite launches into the orbit of the Australian satellite and they therefore collide, it's the fault of the operators of the French satellite. Those operators are under France's jurisdiction and come under any French and EU space regulations.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Starlink (or similar) for Mars makes sense

    After all, people will need to communicate and navigate when they do finally get there in any numbers.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Starlink (or similar) for Mars makes sense

      They could use radio ?

      It worked well enough for us for a while, and actually still does.

      1. Juanguanomo
        Alien

        Re: Starlink (or similar) for Mars makes sense

        Earth has a handy ionosphere for bouncing radio signals around the globe. Mars doesn't have this luxury.

  8. S4qFBxkFFg

    Starlink on the Moon will be difficult; there are very few stable low lunar orbits (only specific inclinations will work due to the Moon having quite an uneven mass distribution compared to Earth). Maybe they can get it to work somehow, but they can't just stick the same types of satellite into the same altitude and expect a drag-free ride until the electronics fail.

    1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      But the cool thing is that it would be possible to put something into orbit around the Moon at an altitude that barely skims the top of the craters.

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Cool, but possibly not the best strategy :)

        Any moonbase will have a fully built internal comms system from day-1, all that will be needed is a small dual purpose GPS/comms type constellation to talk between sites for the first century or two.

      2. MarkSitkowski

        I believe the laws of physics say that can't be done. It would need to be a powered flight.

    2. IT Poser

      Re: there are very few stable low lunar orbits

      That depends on your definition of low. At 100 km you are correct sir. The effects of Lunar mascons (short for mass concentrations) distort orbits in this region. As altitude increases mascon effects decrease rapidly. Above 400 km the effects become insignificant.

      Also, did you hear the one about the restaurant on the Moon? The food is great but it has no atmosphere.

      Drag won't be an issue the hypothetical Moonlink constellation has to deal with. This means propellant isn't needed to maintain orbit like Starlink needs. Dead satellites will need to be actively removed from orbit though.

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      It will be easier to have a ground based network on the surface of the moon with an Earth bounced network for backup rather than trying to get satellites orbiting and keeping them there.

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    What does our resident Martian have to say about this?

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Alien

      Maybe Elon got to him already!

      1. Charlie van Becelaere

        Maybe Elon got to him already!

        Maybe he IS Elon.

  10. Primus Secundus Tertius

    Martian settlers

    I look forward to the day that settlers on Mars dump their American coffee in the Martian sands as a protest against taxes which they claim are unjust, especially if they are not represented in Congress.

    1. Irony Deficient Bronze badge

      Re: Martian settlers

      US citizens who live outside of the US (“outside” includes Mars, since the US is a state party to the Outer Space Treaty) retain their right to vote in US elections as long as they hold US citizenship; their votes (via absentee ballots) would be tallied according to the jurisdiction of their last residence within the US.

      It would be far more interesting to see residents of the District of Columbia throw their own Commodity Party, since they pay federal taxes but haven’t had voting representation in Congress since 1801. (As a result, US expatriates on Mars who last resided within the US in DC would remain without voting representation in Congress.)

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Martian settlers

        That's 'cos DC ain't a state, and federal elections are for positions in the federation, and the federation is a federation of states, you've gotta be a state to be a member of the federation. Just like Isle of Man doesn't vote for representatives in the UK parliament because it's not a constituent of the UK, and Norway don't vote for representatives in the EU 'cos Norway ain't a member of the EU.

        If you wanna vote in the club, you gotta be in the club.

        1. Snowy
          Facepalm

          Re: Martian settlers

          Yes but they still pay taxes!

  11. Mike 16 Silver badge

    240.0.0.0/4?

    Or will IPV4 be completely retired by the time it's relevant?

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: 240.0.0.0/4?

      You know that http to Mars will not work? (yeah, ftp does...) timeouts.

      1. keith_w Bronze badge

        Re: 240.0.0.0/4?

        what do you mean? You can't set TTL to 22+ minutes? Ping You!

    2. Geoff Campbell
      Facepalm

      Re: 240.0.0.0/4?

      It is a sad indictment of the lack of forward-thinking employed that Starlink uses IPv4 and CGNAT, as I understand it.

      IPv6 as default would have been way nicer. Ho hum.

      GJC

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Firstly, I hate to jump on the "we love Elon" bandwagon, but god I love that man sometimes ;)

    "States Parties to the Treaty," it says, "shall bear international responsibility for national activities in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, whether such activities are carried on by governmental agencies or by non-governmental entities."

    That section of the treaty will go away about 3 seconds after the first private spacecraft with a commercial crew is lost in space (or some other similar disaster) and people sue some government because technically they're liable. The treaty was written under the assumption that space travel will be done only by governments. There's a bunch of stuff in there which doesn't really apply to the real world anymore. Maybe some that never did. It's been due for an update for decades.

    And finally: Anybody who thinks that there can be anything but a free mars needs to read Kim Stanley Robinson.

    1. ClockworkOwl
      Pirate

      Or indeed a free Luna!

      Never forget your Heinlein, lest the future bites!!!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New Territory.

    Is always British as it was made by God, and God is an Englishman.

    1. Potemkine! Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: New Territory.

      That owuld explain a lot about the state of the World! :-P

  14. Chris G Silver badge

    Grand Nagus Musk of Mars

    First unwritten Rule of Acquisition ; Why ask when you can take.

  15. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    All hail

    Emperor Musk.... . on pain of death.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqVgrkmRF8Y

  16. Dr_N Silver badge
    Alien

    James S A Corey novels?

    Isn't the plot nearer Gregory Benford's The Martian Race? (And the follow-up The Sunborn.)

    1. Scott 26
      Pirate

      Re: James S A Corey novels?

      It made me think of Space Pirates from a certain Andy Weir novel....

  17. Alan Brown Silver badge

    "Costs vs actually working"

    > £439 for the hardware coupled with the £89 per month charge for service is also a little on the high side although, to be fair, it isn't aimed at those with ready access to the wonderful world of fibre.

    If you're in the UK, across most of the country you hav the choice of "BT" or "BT" no matter who your 'ISP' might eventually be

    WHich means you MIGHT get what they're claiming to offer, or you might get hot garbage that never gets fixed

    "We don't care. we don't have to. We're the PHONE company"

    Incidentally Starlink's 100/20 _proven_ service is already being talked about being pushed up to 300/100 (whiuch wil rival GPON). The units have 12-60GHz radios onboard and right now are only using a couple of 12/14GHz bands so there's plenty of room for expansion

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: "Costs vs actually working"

      How certainly fortunate we then be, Alan Brown, now that Adastral Park services are commandeered to provide RAF Heads of the UK Space Directorate, leadership, presently pioneering under the flight direction of Air Vice Marshal, Harv Smyth ....... https://www.adsadvance.co.uk/the-space-domain-and-uk-security.html

      And it should surely not be a surprise. After all, how much bigger a clue than ..... Per Ardua Ad Astra .... would anyone need right before their very own eyes to learn of the Birthplace of Master Pilots, Schooled and Skilled in the Otherworldly and Out of this World Arts of Flying.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: "Costs vs actually working"

        And it is wise to not summarily dismiss any of the above for you will be severely disadvantaged in believing it far fetched and just too unbelievable to be an honest appraisal of unfolding events.

        Kissing cousins across the pond are certainly aware of their vital lack of novel market leading share ......

        The defense industry is now facing a disruptive technology moment and looking directly at Silicon Valley for inspiration. ...... https://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2021/2/24/the-price-of-success-vs-the-cost-of-failure

        ........ although quite what the defence industry thinks the airheads and deadheads of Silicon Valley can do to have the Pentagon beating a path to their doors is surely some sort of fanciful secret it is best no one knows or asks too many pertinent impertinent questions about.

  18. bigtreeman

    EULA

    Shrink wrap agreement,

    sounds good,

    but will it hold up in court ? probably not

    Corporations think anything scribbled on a piece of paper gives them legal authority.

  19. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    It's all about the forces involved

    If you don't have a policeman on the ground, then on just exactly what do you base your claim to have your laws prevail?

    If you display your stupidity on a cruise ship, do you expect arrest to come from some policeman based in the nation the ship is flagged in?

    The captain's authority on a ship is high precisely because whenever you get more than a couple of humans together, things tend to get complicated. For a trip lasting years, this becomes a real thing. For a one-way trip, a VERY real thing.

    The '67 treaty was a pipe dream when it was signed. Any Moon or Mars colony is going to be a frontier settlement. Issues of law & force are going to be settled based on what the folks on the ground decide to do, outside law be ******. That's particularly important when some joker can disperse the air or water supply permanently and with relative ease.

    The only way some particular nation is going to have its laws in force is if it is a military outpost. Again, this is a frontier we are talking about.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: It's all about the forces involved

      That heavily depends on the desires of other countries to mess with the situation. If say, someone in the U.S. establishes a colony somewhere and refuses to obey the treaty, and the U.S. wants to defend the treaty, all they have to do is prevent any supply launches until things change. Companies trying to launch from elsewhere will have trouble getting access to the launch capacity since existing launches would be going somewhere else and it's not easy to get emergency access to a launch facility with your own rocket. Only if existing governments wanted to provide that emergency access in order to annoy the U.S. would that change.

      Once there is a lot more development where the colony is, that situation will be different. At that point though, there will be authority of some sort established there.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "In space...

    ...nobody can hear you stream Youtube cat porn."

    *Runs away before someone LARTs me*

  21. YetAnotherJoeBlow Bronze badge

    Remember...

    The earth still owns the garage - no permission to launch, you're not going anywhere.

    1. Geoff Campbell
      Go

      Re: Remember...

      I'm sure there are nation states that would be happy to give access to their airspace if the USA don't want to play.

      GJC

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Remember...

        "I'm sure there are nation states that would be happy to give access to their airspace if the USA don't want to play."

        There are, but how happy will they be taking the risks? If the big and experienced countries agree not to help a random company, the random company has to choose among the small countries with no history of supporting a launch. They can't choose a country so small that their rocket will end up in a neighbor's airspace unless they can get support from multiple countries, so now they have to choose a large country or one next to the ocean in the direction of their launch. Then they'll need to build the launch system which the country doesn't have, and the country probably isn't paying for that. Even then, the country is taking the risk of rocket explosions or similar happening overhead, and do they really think a company which has officially disclaimed their responsibilities to the treaty is going to honor the environmental regulations for the cleanup process? Also, if the big countries care enough about not letting the launch happen, they can provide some incentive to the selected country not to provide the assistance and make the company bounce around wasting their time and money trying to find new places to launch.

        1. Geoff Campbell
          Go

          Re: Remember...

          <shrug>

          I think we all know how it will play out. How many countries would pass up the chance to be amongst the first snouts in the trough of the natural resources to be found out beyond the orbit of Mars?

          GJC

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Remember...

          It also has to be noted that launch facilities aren't generic. Each model of rocket requires its own specific ground support. If a company were planning to go rouge, its building of a launch pad unannounced would probably violate their home country's arms trade restrictions (ITAR, in the US).

  22. Goopy

    Space Court v Space Force

    This will never end

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Muuuuuuusk innnnnnnn spaaaaaaaaaace!

    And other batshit insane matters

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Muuuuuuusk innnnnnnn spaaaaaaaaaace!

      MingMusk the Merciless

  24. Potemkine! Silver badge

    The Big Plan

    1) Construct a secret base inside Olympus Mons

    2) Rename 'Mars' to 'Musk' around 2042

    3) Muahahahahahaha!

  25. DROP DATABASE

    possession is 9/10th of the law and I dont see anyone else making an effort

  26. Efer Brick

    But, how much BTC per unit of oxygen?

  27. Dusty

    Posession is nine tenths of the law.

    In this case, this is very much the issue.

    If Musk manages to establish a settlement on Mars (Or anywhere else for that matter), then Mars is his own personal kingdom unless anybody else is in a position to displace him.

    The problem of course is that he will require an Earth base for his operations for the foreseeable future.

    But it has always struck me that Boca Chica looks like a campsite rather than a factory.

    Perhaps the plan is that if the US refuses to play ball, he will simply pack up and move to somewhere more friendly.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Posession is nine tenths of the law.

      "Perhaps the plan is that if the US refuses to play ball, he will simply pack up and move to somewhere more friendly."

      If he does, that will take away his chance at US gov contracts. It could also mean a ban on his being in the US at any point in the future along with any engineers that transfer with him. The US Government up at Fort Pelosi may also impose putative punishments against whatever country he moves to.

      I don't see any commercial potential with going to Mars. The cost to send anything substantial back means material trade is out. This is why I think SpaceX hasn't gone public. Elon's Mars fixation with no income possibility would not sit well with shareholders. Neither would blowing up millions of dollars on a monthly basis to "try out new ideas". Private investors have gone along with this, but things change when the average Joe can buy stock on a public exchange.

  28. Binraider Bronze badge

    I would suggest open space can be relatively conveniently governed by the same international laws that apply to open water - including salvage rights and the like. Claims on territory on the other end, what about all those sites purporting to sell land on remote planets long before anyone can actually get there? Of course they didn't own the land in the first place. Tell that to the American colonists being paid to stick flags in the ground and own a farm for a few years in order to get the rights to land too...

  29. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Come to Britain

    "No Free Mars," remarked Dr Bowen, "unless he's allowed to break international law, or the states of Earth decide to change the Outer Space Treaty."

    If Musk wants to break international law, then he should consider relocating SpaceX to BritainEngland. The current government takes a laissez-faire attitude to international law and treaties

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Come to Britain

      I don't think France would be all that keen to have SpaceX rockets raining down on them from time to time. It's also too far north for many launches.

  30. Juanguanomo
    Pint

    Didn't Werner Von Braun prophesy about a great Elon ruling Mars one day? Sounds like he is already laying the legal groundwork.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Other articles make it clear that international laws still apply to space.

    all other sufficiently advanced civilizations rolling in laughter (or whatever else they roll in).

  32. Citizen99

    "recognize Mars as a free planet and that no Earth-based government has authority or sovereignty over Martian activities."

    That's jolly nice. I look forward to seeing a little green man sticking a parking ticket on the mars rover.

  33. TeeCee Gold badge

    Or..

    From a secret base beneath Olympus Mons: "Finders keepers, losers weepers!".

  34. Fr. Ted Crilly
    Black Helicopters

    who does Musk think he is...

    Praxis Corporation? oh look here comes the UNTA and Surabashi.

  35. Jonjonz

    A nano second after publicly funded research (NASA Mars Rover program) finds valuable resources on Mars, Musk and his partially publicly funded space fleet will suddenly be fully operational and will get employees there first to claim the entire planet and establish a puppet sovereign government with Musky pulling the strings.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "A nano second after publicly funded research (NASA Mars Rover program) finds valuable resources on Mars, Musk and his partially publicly funded space fleet will suddenly be fully operational"

      I doubt it. What resource would be so valuable on Mars that it would be worth shipping back to Earth? It would have to be something that could be robotically scraped off of the surface loaded on a robot rocket and sent back unmanned. It would then need to be landed on the surface of Earth. Maybe someday hundreds of years from now it would make more sense to mine Mars for raw materials to send to LaGrange points around Earth to construct orbiting stations, but doubtful in the lifetime of anybody alive today. The next time JPL holds an open house, it might be a good question I can ask one of the scientists if they've worked out the costs to lift tonnage from Mars and bring it back to Earth orbit vs. lifting it from Earth's deeper gravity well.

  36. Howard Sway

    he was "actually working on a constitution for Mars"

    Elon is the king of Marz and wat Elon sez is the law on Marz and evryfing on Marz belongz to Elon.

    There you go, it's only slightly less childish than the libertarian utopan technofantasy I expect him to produce.

  37. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    Humans

    Once oil is found on Mars, the GoV in Murica will be all over it like flies to shit, if pangolins are found up there, CHINA!! will be interested too, another live and kicking meal for the table

  38. Jake Maverick

    there's a reason why european schools ripped out all their wifi about a decade ago, there's a reason why some countries are halting 5g roll out and some are ripping them down, there's a reason why they make such movies like Kingsman (and the other one Sammy J was in about the same time)......please try to learn to think people before it's too late :-(

  39. grtinker

    Mars is just another 'continent'. The first person there with the Power to do it can claim ownership. Hey, that's the way it's done on Earth, and when we venture out into the stars we will take our little 'traditions' with us. Billionaire, King, Dictator...whatever, you flex your muscle and exercise authority until challenged. That's been our history.

  40. Charlie van Becelaere
    Alien

    Keep in mind that

    the Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

    Extraterrestrial Revolution seems to be in the cards.

  41. Alan Brown Silver badge

    oh honestly

    Did you not read the colony policy

    That defines you as company property?

    "the fine print" - The Stupendium

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YINal45PBTM

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