Uber Outer Space

Orbital law will be a bit like Uber jump-starting the sharing economy. Fast countries and their companies won’t wait for slow governments to move faster.

Fast governments [aka: Luxembourg, representing Europe] are already bootstrapping property rules.

It will all get done long before all the niceties of a territory-dividing treaty get signed. And some nations will move fastest of all to get territory first.

If you believe all nations are equal, this might be hard to imagine. They’re not. That’s policy fiction. In our era of spacefaring, only 6 nations might matter:

Russian Federation
People’s Republic of China

In our era, other Nations are 2nd, 3rd, or 4th Rate – and may have to accept a place in one of the leading six. Unless they get to orbit faster than treaty negotations. Will the leading six let it come to that?

And entrepreneurs. We don’t need a Treaty to get going. We already bootstrap with Nations that let our missions launch. The six leading nations are the ones to watch and obey. Their rules are the rules that matter. Their rules are the rules that get our species into space.

Bootstrap #1 – Grandfathering

We already have international rules that protect war cemeteries, and shipwrecks, and diplomatic missions.

Add future ‘defunct’ landing sites and mining operations to the list.


Dirty Boots
By Jon-Isac Lindberg (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Bootstrapping the future: Future treaty applications – an example using Luna 20, Soviet Union: “On Feb. 21, 1972, Luna 20 soft landed in the rugged highlands between Mare Fecunditatis and Mare Crisium. The next day a sample return capsule blasted off carrying 55 grams of lunar soil. The Luna 20 descent stage still sits silently on the Moon, clearly visible in LROC NAC image M119482862RE. Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University:
LROC is the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera:

http://wms.lroc.asu.edu/lroc/rdr_product_select Data products


A new province of Canada?

When brainstorming treaty concepts, I thought about Alliances that might form when all bets are off. A Nation unexpectedly might join a completely different Orbital Alliance. Strange juxtapositions could occur {See note at bottom of this page}.


Consider the UK. Prior to Brexit, it would be natural to assume membership in a European Orbital Alliance.


Post-Brexit, what happens? In a “hard” Brexit, the UK leaves the EU, and does not join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) or European Economic Area (EEA). In a “soft” Brexit, the UK joins EFTA, the EEA or a special access agreement with EU.


Is there a 3rd option? On the road to developing Orbital Alliances, could the UK be an Associate State or Province of Canada?

The idea – a strange fish. But then, shifting arrangements always create new opportunities.

Post-Brexit might produce new devolution: Scotland and Northern Ireland staying with Europe, and England going it alone. Given the deep ties with Canada (families, history, traditions, constitutional history, head of state), would Associate State or Province status keep the UK politically and economically united?

Nunavut’s Legislative Chamber, Iqaluit, NU

Would Canadians want this new arrangement, too? We might expect Westminster to be subordinate to Ottawa. The USA and Mexico might accommodate UK joining NAFTA through Canada. Our benefits might include access to UK’s superlative industrial technology base and financial expertise. But a population 2x Canada’s. That’s a tough one.


And other Nations – Iceland? Greenland?

Would they join Canada, too?



The maps, they are a’changing. By the time we are an off-planet civilization, they might just be unrecognizable.


– By David Huer

Note 1: “Traditional” Alliance Examples

: Africa (South Africa)
: America First (USA)
: Commonwealth (NZ, AU, UK, Canada)
: China (China)
: Eurasia (Russia)
: Europe (France)
: India/Asia (India, Singapore, Japan)
: Non-Aligned (Panama, Mexico).
: South America (Brazil)

Note 2: Novel Alliance Examples

: Industries
: Shared resources
: Shared ideas

New Images:

Detail of Europe at Night, NASA Black Marble earth observation program: https://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/earthmonth/earthmonth_2013_5.html
cf. https://sociable.co/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/detail-of-europe-at-night.jpg

Earth (lower quadrant image), NASA via:

The beautiful chamber of Nunavut’s Legislative Assembly:
Courtesy of Managing Editor, Nunatsiaq News http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/

UK location in the EU 2016.svg By Furfur (This file was derived from EU Single Market.svg:) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


Now imagine the expansive view (IAM #2)

As we move into Orbital Trade, Mr. Martinez’ vision that Congress should restrict domestic defence manufacturing to US companies makes sense for orbital territories.

In a Treaty of Alliances, where – as proposed – there are several International Alliances, and America First is one alliance of all US States & Territories, the USA could naturally go it alone.

1/9th of the Moon.

1/9th of all other planets and moons.

1/9th of all mining, colonization, and terraformed territories.

That’s a lot of work for American industry.

And all power to you.

Moreover, a Trade Representative, expressing the will of Congress and the Executive Branch, will naturally have the right to define conditions to participate in prospecting, mining, refining, manufacturing, assembly, and trade in America’s Treaty-defined orbital territories.

That again, makes sense.

By David Huer

Image: NASA computer simulation of full-scale Nuclear Thermal Rocket in low earth orbt. Destination Mars. Credit: NASA Glenn Research Center via Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucedorminey/2012/04/02/time-for-nasa-to-go-nuclear/#6a3208a723eb

Image: http://astronaut.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/20141119_mars-lander_f840-e1416665797428.png

IAM’s Martinez throws Canadian Members out the Airlock

Last June, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) President Bob Martinez called on Aerospace Workers to “Unite Globally.”


Now he is issuing a demand to have all US Defense purchases US-made. Good copy, but not exactly smart. Not when coupled with the bizarre warning that America “will be vulnerable in the event our allies become our enemies and supply chains are disrupted.”

You’ve got to ask: What will US workers get for work if they only build US parts? Where are the economies of scale for each assembly part? Would any NATO country protect US intellectual property rights without reciprocity? Would any country open any trade sectors to US products of any kind?

If we are to take Martinez’ logic forward, no American worker can ever be trusted to build military products for Canada or any other NATO Partner. We should not buy Boeing CF-18s for the RCAF. Or any product built by Lockheed Martin. Or any other US company.

I don’t believe that. We are neighbours, and family, and allied supply chains are interlinked.

But his rant does raise the question: What sort of “International President” calls his own Members the Enemy?



As the planet starts entering orbital trade, maybe a “Commonwealth Alliance Aerospace Workers Union” offers a better, friendlier, win-win deal?



By David Huer

New images:

Martinez photo: https://www.goiam.org/news/martinez-calls-aerospace-workers-unite-globally/

Aerospace components image: from
http://aerospacereview.ca/eic/site/060.nsf/eng/h_00003.html via https://henrybasset.blogspot.ca/2015/12/what-about-little-guy.html


CC-150 Polaris

Is Bombardier an “orbital fuselage” threat to Boeing?

I keep wondering why Boeing and Washington allied to start a trade war with Bombardier, Canada and the UK?

The Motley Fool’s Rich Smith smartly calls this “a boneheaded move” : “In other words, the F/A-18s that Boeing had all but succeeded in selling to the Royal Canadian Air Force are all but guaranteed to be twice as profitable for Boeing as any 737s it might succeed in selling thanks to its ITC action. And any additional F/A-18s Boeing might succeed in selling to Canada, should the latter elect not to buy F-35s from Lockheed, would likewise be twice as profitable for Boeing. Now, Boeing has put all of those profits at risk. And it has no one to blame but itself.”   https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/06/05/boeing-sues-canada-is-it-making-a-huge-mistake.aspx

Bombardier [BBD/B:CN Toronto]
Airbus [AIR:FP EN Paris]
Boeing [BA:US New York]

And keep coming back to What Happens? …If following the C-Series alliance, Bombardier and Airbus jointly go after Boeing’s space launch business?

Boeing might have a lot to lose.

After all these years, Boeing is starting to look a bit like the era of IBM’s classic mistake pooh-poohing upstart Bill Gates. A bit worn and top-heavy. Trying to do everything. Too stuffy. Too many red ties. Too slow. Vainly trying to block loss of market share.

Facing SpaceX must be bad enough.



What does Canada have to offer Airbus? For starters: vast open spaces for launch facilities and Russia-type capsule landings; North Atlantic drop zones; technical skills that are complimentary to Airbus. What does Europe offer? For starters: CETA. Stability. Multilinguality. Psychologically stable leadership. And Tweet-free negotiations.

David Huer has no position in any stocks mentioned here.

Images: linked

Astronaut Double Amputeans and Paraplegians?

I’m reading Michael Kerrigan’s Restoring Character in America for an upcoming blog post. In the meantime, have a look at two 2016 postings from my creativity blog:



Orbital Trade offers expansive opportunities for physically-challenged people. This will be amazing for Earth-bound “disabled” people coming top-side.



But possibly competitively secretly scary to two-leggers – the standard astronaut archetype.

Because commanders, mission planners, investors, accountants, and insurers are going to ask: Aren’t two-legged people naturally less abled in the spaceflight environment? Aren’t legless pilots the supremely more effective choice?


All companies think about the bottom line. Here, as an entrepreneur, the natural thought is: Wow, amazing. I can cut the cost of launch, consumables, and probably get some tax credits.

But better companies aspire to something more.  What could we accomplish creating Orbital Career Opportunities for Physically-Challenged People? Aren’t Amputean/Paraplegian Astronauts superior candidates? Who is the more-natural astronaut?

– by David Huer
– originally published in creativity blog (June 2016)


Sgt. Anthony Larson, his adaptive ski instructor close behind, skis down the beginner’s hill on his mono-ski March 9, 2007 in Vail, CO, USA.
US Public Domain: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vail_Veterans_monoski.jpg

USMC Corporal Todd Love and Team X-T.R.E.M.E. competing in The Spartan Race, Leesburg, VA, 2012: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2195897/Triple-amputee-veteran-completes-grueling-10-5-mile-endurance-race-called-The-Beast-hours-honor-fallen-U-S-soldiers.html

Next-gen Astronaut suit, Oceaneering [OII U.S.: NYSE]: http://investors.oceaneering.com/investor-relations/default.aspx

Securing Security for Civil LaunchFlight

Note: This continues from: Managing Civil LaunchFlight.

Joint Orbital Traffic Control: For this to work, the Great Powers (superpower nations possessing combined launch, orbital, satellite and nuclear strike capabilities) must have confidence that there will be joint security against rogue states and actors; and joint benefit to protect our civilization against Earth-threatening debris and Asteroids.

To that end, it seems likely that Great Powers will require treaty-defined orbital traffic “master control” centres [here, called Quadrant HQs (“QHQs”)] in each of their Nations or in mutually-agreeable 3rd-party Nations. managing civilian launch-to-orbit traffic, routed by Orbital Triangulation Centres scattered around the globe].

QHQ’s will manage the operational hand-off from Civilian-National Launch to International-Orbital routes, routed by Orbital Triangulation Centres. They will have economic impact, so all centres must be located with more than technical reasons in mind.  QHQs must be located in internationally-friendly cities who understand that their regions become part of a global network of centres for regional and global communications’ commerce.

Supporters will understand that the presence of orbital traffic control facilities make their communities inspirational cities for every succeeding spacefaring generation.

QHQ’s will administratively report to Global HQ, but their operational sites and communications arrays will be trained and staffed by military personnel.  Here are suggestions.

1. Northwest Quadrant: Malmstrom QHQ
City: Great Falls, MT, USA
Facility Build: On-site
Site rationale: Technical, Geographic, 3rd-Party agreeable (US, UK, France)?


2. Northeast Quadrant: Baikonur QHQ
City: Baikonur, Kazahkstan
Facility Build: On-site
Site rationale: Technical, Geographic, 3rd-Party agreeable (Russia, India, China)?


3. Southwest Quadrant: El Alto QHQ
City: La Paz, Bolivia
Facility Build: Bolivian Altplano
Site rationale: Technical, Geographic, 3rd-Party agreeable?


4. Southeast Quadrant: Drakensberg QHQ
Supported by South Africa
City: Rome, Lesotho
Facility Build: Drakensberg Mountains
Site rationale: Technical, Geographic, 3rd-Party agreeable?

By David Huer  :  19 Oct 2017


Altiplano de La Paz Bolivia
By Skykid 123ve (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

ISS Mission Control during Expedition 47
By NASA/Lauren Harnett [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Parabolic antenna at Baikonur, Kazakhstan
By NASA/Bill Ingalls (http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/; ID: JSC2006-E-11942) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana – 2009
By United States Air Force [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By user:Hajor (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or GPL (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

View of Roma Village; Lesotho
By Martin Schärli (Own work) Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Merged Map Image (D.Huer)

Antarctica (orthographic projection)
This vector image was created with Inkscape. By Heraldry [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Orthographic projection centred on the North Pole, Derived from File:Worldmap northern.svg
By Rob984 (Derived from File:Worldmap northern.svg) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Managing Civil LaunchFlight

Many governments err on the side of caution; not wanting to be the first to take the first step, if there is concern that national security could be put at risk.

We are lucky with civil aviation. Nations already took those steps through treaty: establishing international flight frameworks, standards, rules, communications, locationing systems, and flight management tasking through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO – Montréal, Canada).

Extending ICAO to the edge of space

Could ICAO prototype the rules, procedures, tasks, systems, and technologies to extend today’s rules to launch and spaceflight?

Ultimately creating an orbital traffic agency?

Here is the concept:

Autorité de coordination internationale de lancement de vol
International Launch/Flight Coordinating Authority (ACILV-ILFCA)

A. Organize global orbitalspace
: into Quadrants, clockwise from Prime Meridian.


B. Organize Global Headquarters and its oversight functions (1-site). In this scenario, ICAO’s task group is also at Montréal.

Extend ICAO’s terrestrial authority over international flight rules from launchsites’ hand-off to international territory controllers.

C. Organize the framework:

a. Quadrant Headquarters (international territory controllers  : 4-sites): Quadrant HQ’s (QHQ) organize and coordinate flight rule agreements, and manage planetary-wide launch-to-orbit flights from national to orbital space.

b. Orbital Triangulation Centres: Groundstations managing communications and telemetry data scattered across the globe.

D. Initiate sweeps of Kessler Gyres* (orbital debris fields) that block safe operation of suborbital and orbital traffic.

*Named here after (i) knowledge-developer – NASA scientist Donald J. Kessler and (ii) ocean gyres : “large systems of circular ocean currents formed by global wind patterns and forces created by Earth’s rotation” (cf. National Geographic). Ocean gyres collect plastic debris that, similarly spawn cascading breakdowns of large debris into pieces small enough to be consumed by plankton = very nearly the same challenge we have in orbit.

E. Prepare for an Orbital Traffic Centre:

By David Huer  :  15 Oct 2017

Note: This continues with: Securing Security for Civil LaunchFlight


Antarctica (orthographic projection)
This vector image was created with Inkscape. By Heraldry [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

ICAO – Montreal Headquarters signage
Public Domain

Orthographic projection centred on the North Pole, Derived from File:Worldmap northern.svg
By Rob984 (Derived from File:Worldmap northern.svg) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Seriousness of the Kessler Syndrome – A computer simulation made by the Institute for Air and Spacesystems at the Technical University of Braunschweig, Germany, shows the distribution and movement of space debris at present and in future.
Image: AP / TU Braunschweig

Orbital Image – merged by D.Huer
a. USAF Pope Field Air Traffic Control Tower
U.S. Air Force illustration/Tech. Sgt. Peter R. Miller. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
b. ISS-32 HTV-3 berthing 4
By NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons