A5JF2J Astronaut with For Sale sign

Space Property – Fiona Gannon


At the start of it

all there is He: the classical ideal of ‘Man’, formulated first by Protagoras as ‘the measure of all things’, later renewed in the Italian Renaissance as a universal model and represented in Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. An ideal of bodily perfection which, in keeping with the classical dictum mens sana in corpore sano, doubles up as a set of mental, discursive and spiritual values. Together they uphold a specific view of what is ‘human’ about humanity. Moreover, they assert with unshakable certainty the almost boundless capacity of humans to pursue their individual and collective perfectibility. That iconic image is the emblem of Humanism as a doctrine that combines the biological, discursive and moral expansion of human capabilities into an idea of teleologically ordained, rational progress. – Rosi Braidotti

Leonardo_da_Vinci-_Vitruvian_Man

 

These are the opening lines to Rosi Braidotti’s “The Posthuman.” The idea of ‘humanity’ is often used as something for the sake of which we act politically. We make our ethical decisions based on what would be ‘humane’ or for the benefit of ‘humanity.’ This human of the renaissance and rational thinking is not a neutral body, it is Western European, white and also male. The problems of taking this Man as a pillar of reasoning upon which our decisions are made, the axis by which we decide what is right and wrong, are multiple. What is this human of cialis definition which we speak? The ‘rational animal’ harks back to the Cartesian split between body and mind, ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ and creates a floating head that is locationless. In our current era this locationless-ness is absolutely out of the question for politics. We are radically located, embodied beings, amongst other non-human bodies who require our empathy and attention.

A new bill has been signed by President Obama, which gives asteroid property rights to American citizens. The company responsible, an “asteroid mining company,” is called “Planetary Resources.” This company has a second program they are running, the “Ceres” program. The equipment that is part of this 2nd program can collect “hyperspectral imaging” that can collect information about the composition of materials on earth. This will be used to monitor crop growth, oil reserves, and other resources. Hence the company’s name “Planetary Resources.”

Our goal is no less than, expanding the economy of our planet, into space, through accessing the resources of space.

 – from the “Ceres” promotional video

 

 

 

The company’s concern began with looking at the material composition of asteroids, in order to better understand the material composition of Earth. The equipment that is used to look at the thermographic and material properties of asteroids, is now being turned around to look back at the earth. This movement out into space, in order to look back at the earth upon which we are dwelling, is an interesting shift. Turning our telescopes back to our own planet, which has become something of a question mark, shows the shift in our global concern. We are no longer looking out into space, but down at the uncertainty upon which we stand.

There has been however, no shift in the way of thinking about the ground upon which we stand. The idea of ownership has been pushed to new levels, this is a desperate act, attempting to contain and monitor our massive kitchen cupboard that we call Earth, while the bean cans start to rattle and our delph smashes, as the earth quakes and so we stare at it with more expensive equipment. Expensive in every sense of what that word might mean. The idea of ‘resources’ is not under question enough. Resources for who? Who is entitled to all of this?

If we return to the new property rights bill that has been passed by Obama, which outlines ‘space property’ we can look at this idea of property more carefully. The wording in the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, outlining these new rights, is quite interesting. It flags a couple of pivot points in the decision-making process around ownership.

 

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An ‘asteroid resource’ is a ‘space resource’ found on or within an asteroid. This covers the surface of the asteroid (“on”) as well as the material content of the asteroid (“within”). A ‘space resource’ is then defined as any ‘abiotic’ material including water and minerals. So, the asteroid-as-resource is defined by its surface area as well as its material abiotic composition. What would be categorized as alive would exist on top of the asteroid and not as part of it.

The biotic sits on top of the abiotic and is separate from it according to this logic. The human mining equipment sits on top of the abiotic asteroid and collects its abiotic material for biotic use on Earth. The Ceres satellite pivots, and looks at the abiotic stuff on Earth, such as oil, minerals, soil compositions for crop production, and the crops themselves in relationship to their material and nutritive composition. The plants are viewed in relationship to their abiotic composition. The human is viewed in relationship to its abiotic composition…

And so we have moved onto the idea of property.

 

Screenshot 2015-12-08 15.15.16

(Screenshot taken from: http://www.planetaryresources.com/2015/11/president-obama-signs-bill-recognizing-asteroid-resource-property-rights-into-law/)

 

 

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By holding the abiotic apart and https://www.acheterviagrafr24.com/ou-acheter-du-viagra-sans-ordonnance-au-quebec/ away from the biotic, to neutralise it, we are creating blind spots for our politics. These blind spots are located in the material properties of biotic life, which become property in the commercial sense. The violence of categorising materiality as neutral and unimportant is emerging, as the borders between

abiotic materials and biotic entities get thinner and thinner.

 

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Mining asteroids is the stuff of nightmares if stars are the things of dreams.

 

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