Space industrialization and the G20
by Vidvuds Beldavs, Jeffrey Sommers, and Gregory Anderson
|The heightened interest in space, resulting not only from the Chelyabinsk event but also from achievements and developments in commercial space, suggest that the topic of space industrialization has a reasonable chance of being considered on the agenda of the G20.|
Russia is currently the presiding nation of the G20. By coincidence, G20 meetings were underway in Moscow at the time of the meteor explosion over Chelyabinsk, a major industrial city in Siberia. Russia is the only country in the world that has suffered significant damage from impact by cosmic bodies in modern times. In 1908, the Tunguska region of Siberia witnessed a major explosion of an extraterrestrial object that burned and leveled trees for an area the size of Los Angeles. Understandably, Russia is now considering a significantly expanded planetary defense initiative against asteroid and comet impacts. It’s possible planetary defense will be discussed during G20 meetings that will continue throughout 2013, culminating in the G20 Summit Conference in St. Petersburg on September 5-6. However, the primary topics on the G20 Agenda are to develop a plan to drive global economic growth:
The discussion of the whole range of the closely intertwined items of the G20 agenda has been planned around the three overarching priorities, all focused on igniting a new cycle of economic growth. We also look upon them as the three watchwords for the Russian G20 Presidency:
- Growth through quality jobs and investment;
- Growth through trust and transparency;
- Growth through effective regulation.
More information about the G20 can be found at http://en.g20russia.ru/.
In our recent essay here (see “Back to the future: Space and escaping the gravitational pull of economic crisis”, The Space Review, November 19, 2012), we suggested that space industrialization can pull the world out of economic crisis. The heightened interest in space, resulting not only from the Chelyabinsk event but also from achievements and developments in commercial space, suggest that the topic of space industrialization has a reasonable chance of being considered on the agenda of the G20. There are multiple upcoming meetings of various G20 working groups primarily in Russia, but also in Washington, Geneva, and Paris. Space development advocacy groups should be able to find ways to present their views to delegates to these various sessions that come before the September Summit. What’s needed is a position statement similar to the NSS-Kalam SBSP initiative launched on November 4, 2010.
Below is a draft position statement for presentation to the G20. We welcome comments and suggestions. Ideally, a group would meet physically or electronically to develop a statement that would satisfy the members of the NSS and other groups, and then inform multiple G20 delegates about the topic. If a delegate buys into the idea, then a press conference could be organized similar to the NSS-Kalam event. Note that while Russia is presides over the G20 in 2013, Australia will follow in 2014 and Turkey in 2015.
The recent Chelyabinsk meteor impact is a reminder of the potential for great destruction from asteroid impact and the need for planetary defense. Concurrently, asteroids, the Moon, and other planetary bodies have resources with considerable economic value with some asteroids estimated to hold trillions of dollars worth of valuable resources. Technologies are under development for both planetary defense and for mining the Moon and asteroids with states, private companies, and numerous non-governmental organizations involved.
|We call on the G20 to organize a global space summit conference in 2014 to address three interlinked space challenges.|
The Outer Space Treaty, first published in January 1967 and now signed by over 100 countries, is the basis for international space law but does not provide clear guidance for commercial activities by private firms nor by the various non-governmental actors. Yet the essentially limitless resources in space hold the potential to accelerate global economic growth, create millions of good jobs with the sustainable capacity for stable growth for decades to come, while defending the Earth from asteroid impact and mitigating the effects of climate change through carbon-free delivery of electricity to the remotest regions of the world.
We call on the G20 to organize a global space summit conference in 2014 to address the following three interlinked challenges that require a shared framework of legal understandings and infrastructure: