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A próxima anarquia no espaço sideral


Entramos em uma nova era espacial, projetando todas as patologias de grande poder da Terra – ambição, medo e ganância – nos céus.

Obs.: Como se não bastasse a barafunda aqui embaixo, a caterva também está arrumando confusão lá em cima. O assunto é extenso, mas vale a pena inteirar-se das diabruras.

TO ELON Musk—the founder of the extremely successful space launch vehicle and communication satellite company, SpaceX—colonizing the Moon and Mars, becoming a “multi-planet species,” is both profitable and vital to the future of humanity. NASA has endorsed this expansive vision of the next generation of human space flight in the form of a close collaboration between the Artemis lunar exploration program and SpaceX to employ a lunar lander derived from the very high-performance Starship design by the end of this decade.

To the Pentagon, U.S. domination of the space domain is key to national defense. This more militarized impulse has been institutionalized with the creation of the United States Space Force (USSF), a legacy of the Trump administration. In its more benign form, the USSF will provide dramatically improved situational awareness of human activity in cislunar space. More problematic is the prospect that the USSF is prepared to use force in this new, much larger, and increasingly contested space environment.

Clearly, we have entered a new space era, projecting all the Earth’s great power pathologies—ambition, fear, and greed—into the heavens.

The United States and China are in an increasingly bipolar competition with traditional space powers such as Russia, the EU, Japan, and India playing a secondary role, tilting in one direction or the other. Thus, the terrestrial competition between Washington and Beijing is creating fresh facts and separate rules to guide their respective space policies and those of commercial actors, eclipsing the universally agreed Outer Space Treaty (OST) principle of space as “the province of all mankind.” Call it the new tragedy of the commons.

A MAJOR paradox of this uncertain era is that outer space has become ever more vital to sustaining civilization—everything, from GPS, global television, and the Internet to military command and control—yet burgeoning human activities in space have never been more imperiled. From the parade of billionaires whose leisure time is filled by space tourism, to both the United States and China landing rovers on Mars and NASA’s successful launch of a $10 billion Webb telescope peering into the origins of the universe, 2021 marked a new height for a crowded, contested cosmos. There is a mushrooming commercial space industry that includes Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit launcher programs that are creating a presence in space that may soon rival or surpass the role of governments—who are ultimately responsible for private sector actions. Yet there is a dearth of global rules to guide space-faring nations’ behavior.

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