Last summer, it was the Technological Singularity and the American Polity (1, 2, 3) and now, spaceships and space colonies and (you guessed it!) the American Polity (based on this post).
Since SpaceX is taking the place of NASA, it is nice to know that the Final Frontier is still being explored.
The Mayflower debarking at Plymouth Rock
|Ark I by the Lifeboat Foundation|
The Frontier is the American story. From the Louisiana Purchase (with help by Louis and Clark) to the '49ers who went to colonize California, America has always looked towards the West (and the sea, then the stars) for adventure and riches.
To move forward in the expansion of the Frontier, we must imagine climbing away from the Earth. Now, the Climate Change believers would like that part, but until we figure where the fuel is coming from (Nuclear, or something else?), they, like other Modern Enviormentalists will want to stop Americans from stretching outward. (i.e. Look at the Central Valley of California, a place that can feed the West Coast has its water shut off so most Californians get their food from Mexico).
Before we colonize the Universe, America must travel there. If it takes months via some warp speed technology, great. If not, we sleep and dream as in the Alien series aboard vessels that carry us into the black. This post is about those ships carrying us into the Eternal Night and the American Polity.
I. The Colony Ship (Sleep till Destination)-- Representation in Space or on the Hill?
|Nostromo from Alien as an example|
Imagine that Earthlings look out to the stars and find a planet equal to ours: Earth 2;
Imagine that the technology allows people to pick up and go to this New World;
Imagine that everyone sleeps until there is a way to get to the New Planet;
The questions become:
1) Are the people traveling to Earth 2 in a self-contained Polity?; Or
2) Are they still Citizens of the American Polity?
Most ships travel with some skeleton crew. Given the reliabilities of AI (or even the thought of them turning into HAL), the (human) Skeleton Crew should have a Naval Chain of Command. And the Humans must be able to overrule the AI, if necessary. But the AI should be on a shared chain of command.
The Skeleton Crew can wake others after a year (or more) of time. Some sleep, others take command, still following the Navy protocol -- still trumping the AI.
When the ship reaches Earth 2, that part of the discussion will resume in July.
To answer question 2, if the Colony Ship flies under an American Flag, then the Skeleton Crew is under the rules of American Space Law.
II. Generational Ships (Awake until Grandchildren make Landfall) -- Representation or Self-Contained?
Imagine no Warp Drive and traveling to Earth 2 will take Generations.
Let's call this ship, Canaan, after the land the Israeli's founded after their Exodus from Egypt.
Like Moses, you will not see the promised land, but your children or Grandchildren (or etc. till whenever) will.
Does your ship fall under the American polity? At what point does your Intersteller Ark take up its own Laws?
Let's theorize that it will take 300 years to Earth 2, now what?
A) Communication to/from Earth (1) should last about 100 years, until the point where the Generational Ship loses contact with Earth (1) -- the rules of American Space law (again, if flying under the US Flag) should apply.
B) Before losing contact with Earth (1), the creation of a Canaan Polity is created. Because it is an American ship, it will be based on the US Constitution. I am sure by this point, Cannan would have its own coinage and social structure, but it still needs a tetherhold to its Genesis. And without a basis of Laws, chaos will destroy everyone in flight.
C) The Canaan polity holds until landfall at Earth (2) whereby we take up what happens next in July.
Conclusion: In the Black
If cryonics work, the American polity survives intact with the passengers and crew.
If an Intersteller Ark is needed, then within the social structure of the ship, the American polity might be changed within the confines of the journey.
It all depends who puts the Flag out for our Colonists first.
My question: Does American law apply to the ISS as well as other Space Bodies?