The FAA is ready to protect — and regulate — your space business

The Takeaway
Earth

Earth is pictured from the Moon.

NASA

If you ever decide to start a business on the moon, fear not. The Federal Aviation Administration says it will make sure other private companies can't steal your location.

That's right — the FAA is already starting to regulate the future economy of outer space.

This announcement foreshadows a future where capitalism moves beyond planet Earth — a future where private companies can offer goods and services on other terrestrial bodies in our solar system.

And some of those companies are already gearing up.

Mike Gold is director of D.C. Operations and Business Growth for Bigelow Aerospace. It's a company that makes outer space habitats. He's also part of an advisory committee that helps the FAA figure out how to make these rules. Gold believes it's important for the FAA to regulate private business in space.

“These regulations are unique in that they can actually serve as incentives for investment,” says Gold. “That’s what industry is looking for here. Maybe we won’t be on the moon tomorrow, but there are many companies — including my own — that are making substantial investments in lunar technology today.”

Gold says the FAA is taking steps to provide corporate enterprises with a new degree of assurance, security and motivation to invest in technologies that can eventually help bring business to the moon or other celestial bodies.

Some are not so optimistic, however. Since companies like Gold’s are advising the FAA on these new rules, many are concerned that the business industry is writing its own regulations.

“That’s not the case,” Gold says. “The FAA has been going through some strong pushback with the industry. The industry has been working with them on this.”

The 1967 United Nations Outer Space Treaty, which was modeled on its predecessor, the Antarctic Treaty, prohibits any nation from claiming galactic territory as its own. The new regulations being pushed by the FAA, Gold says, are not designed to foster territorial claims of lunar property.