According to the updated Terms of Service for the SpaceX Starlink internet project, international laws will not be recognized on Mars. Instead, SpaceX promises to establish a set of “self-governing principles” that will be defined at the time of settlement.
A Starlink app launched in certain regions this week, which is where users who download the app can view the updated Terms of Service. The new guidelines also indicated that Starlink service provided on Earth or the Moon will be governed in accordance with the laws of the State of California.
“For services provided on Mars, or in transit to Mars via Starship or other colonisation spacecraft, the parties recognise Mars as a free planet and that no Earth-based government has authority or sovereignty over Martian activities. Accordingly, disputes will be settled through self-governing principles, established in good faith, at the time of Martian settlement,” the terms of service stated.
In the Starlink terms of service, you have to agree that “no Earth-based government has authority or sovereignty over Martian activities.” pic.twitter.com/ZXeQ3shvQT
— Eli Dourado (@elidourado) October 28, 2020
It makes sense that laws on Earth would not apply to other planets, and new frontiers offer new chances for people to attempt new ways of living.
The Declaration of the Rights and Responsibilities of Humanity in the Universe states that space should be “considered free, by all, for all and to all,” and it appears that the “self-governance” suggested by Musk would be in line with these values.
However, there are some critics who are concerned that the terms suggested by SpaceX would give Musk ultimate authority over Mars, essentially making him some type of planetary emperor. Musk has had to answer to these types of allegations since at least 2013, when he first responded to questions about ruling the red planet on Twitter.
To be super clear, I don't wish to (nor could I) mandate anything about a Mars Colony. Am just working on the tech to get people there.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 10, 2013
In 2018, Musk got more specific for his vision of governance on Mars, describing something that sounded a lot like direct democracy.
“People should vote directly on issues instead of going through representative government. Maybe it requires 60% – so, a majority vote – to get a law in place, but any number over 40% could also remove a law. It should be easier to get rid of a rule than to put one in. The text of the laws should be short and easy to understand. Too many regulations can be harmful and keep a society from moving forward,” Musk said.
SpaceX president and COO Gwynee Shotwell spoke with TIME magazine about SpaceX’s mission to bring Starlink internet to Mars.
“Once we take people to Mars, they are going to need a capability to communicate. In fact, I think it will be even more critical to have a constellation like Starlink around Mars,” she said.
Musk has previously said that he expects a million people to eventually be living on Mars.
Musk said that the space missions to Mars must be accessible and inclusive, so as to allow anyone to go if they want. Musk said that loans should be made available for those who are unable to come up with the money up front. When people asked if they would have to work off the loan once they got to Mars, Musk replied, “Yes. There will be a lot of jobs on Mars!”
He even seemed to have all of the complicated math figured out, as shown in the tweets below.
Starship design goal is 3 flights/day avg rate, so ~1000 flights/year at >100 tons/flight, so every 10 ships yield 1 megaton per year to orbit
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 17, 2020
Earlier this year, the Space-X CEO reiterated his earlier publicized plan to terraform Mars with nuclear detonations. Musk believes that detonating nuclear devices over both of the planet’s poles would release enough carbon dioxide to warm the atmosphere and help bring it closer to the conditions experienced here on Earth. As it stands now, much of the carbon dioxide on Mars is locked in frozen reserves under the planet’s surface.