Wed, Mar 27, 2013 - Page 6 News List

FEATURE: Miners shoot for the stars in space technology race

INTERPLANETARY POTENTIAL:Phil Metzger of NASA believes that within half a century the industrial capacity of space could be one billion times that of the US

AFP, SYDNEY

“We’re coming at it strictly from the scientific understanding of planets and bodies and so forth, but we’re also addressing and solving a lot of issues that the community will have to face,” Fradet said.

He offered a detailed insight into the challenges of operating on Mars, where there is 38 percent the gravity of Earth and its atmosphere is less than 1 percent the thickness.

Communication was delayed by an average of 14 minutes. Practicalities aside, there are also bigger questions at stake, such as who owns the resources of space.

More than 100 countries have ratified the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which holds signatory nations responsible for activities in space, including those by private firms, but is yet to be tested.

It mandates that the moon and other celestial bodies be used “exclusively for peaceful purposes” and activities “shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries.”

“We’re talking about things probably 20-30 years from now, but I think it’s a good time to engage in these things and say ‘ok where do we want to go, what are some of the milestones?’” Fradet said.

“I think it’s a good thing to start playing out these scenarios to see what makes sense and where the future leads and so forth,” he said. “That’s a big part of the challenge.”

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