Uh-oh... hold on.... I’m receiving reports that these are not the kind of laws Elon Musk is talking about.
In SpaceX’s new Starlink app—which is basically an app that lets users access SpaceX’s internet constellation for faster download speeds—there’s an interesting claim in the terms of service that essentially says anyone heading off to Mars is exempt from Earthbound laws. It reads:
For services provided on Mars, or in transit to Mars via Starship or other colonization spacecraft, the parties recognize Mars as a free planet and that no Earth-based government has authority or sovereignty over Martian activities.
That is, essentially, some peak colonizer bullshit. The mindset that nothing actually exists until you, a human, arrive to make meaning out of it is the exact thing humans have been doing for ages. When European folk started crossing the pond and settling in America, they saw it as a “free planet,” too, one that couldn’t be governed by European law. What generally ends up happening is that the person with the most Earthbound power will end up being the person with all the power on Mars.
Shocker. I know.
You can’t really escape the dictates of Earth. Humans born on Earth will have to be the ones who start making the trip to Mars, and if you’ve ever tried to convince a person to change beliefs that are so foundational to their composition as a person that they don’t even realize those things are beliefs and not objective laws of the universe, then you know no one is going anywhere with a blank slate.
It’s like Musk heard the first part of a Lord of the Flies summary and got so wrapped up in daydreaming about how he’d make society function on his deserted island that he missed the part where all the boys end up tearing themselves apart.
When humans first started going into space, we formed The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and wrote the International Space Law. Basically, the law states that no single person or country can claim space as its own and that anyone who goes out there with the intention to harm can and should be stopped. We’re supposed to sort out space activities as a planet. Musk can’t just decide he doesn’t want to follow the rules.
Don’t let the dreamy “we’ll establish our own rules” mindset fool you. It’s just a convenient way for Musk—who plans on getting to Mars first—to establish some laws and say that, since he made them on Mars, they aren’t technically Earth laws.