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Two Major, Obvious Ways to
Fund the Development of Space

by Win Wenger, Ph.D.

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Space is where the human future is, HAS to be, and needs to be soon, if we're to get past some absolutely critical problems on this our home planet.

What the disgraceful lapse in our explorations after Apollo showed us is that we cannot rely directly upon government and the vagaries of short-sighted political process. That means main funding has to come from the private sector, and some of that, of late, has been emerging. To improve yet further the rate of private funding, however, here are two major, and obvious, ways.

o   One is, of course, the proposal that we exempt from all taxes for a full decade all income earned from development of space, and tax it at only half rate through the following decade. The resultant increased economic activity would actually put more revenues into government coffers than were foregone.

o   The second proposal is for greatly accelerating space development through private funding. [For those who track such matters, this proposal was conceived at 7:00 a.m., May 30, 2002.]

This description centers on Mars, and the prospect of an eventually terraformed Mars, though modified versions of it will obviously also apply elsewhere, including economically large-scale O'Neill orbital habitats and the (presumably non-terraformable) Lunar settlements.....

"Founding-Father Lease-Bonds"

This has to be done either via NASA or through some agency with sufficient authority for the certificates to mean something (and to preclude scams by other groups)....

Sell lease-bond title, acre by acre, say $20/acre, for most areas of Mars, and $200 or so for designated select areas — the top of Olympus Mons, where undoubtedly science stations and the main ground-based observatory will be maintained long after Mars is settled and terraformed; the floors and walls of canyons including Valles Marineris; highland areas bordering lowlands (eventual oceanfront property, especially between 30 degrees north and 30 degrees south); etc.

These lease-bond titles and certificates would not be conventional property ownership. They would be a new kind of instrument, invented specifically for this purpose. Some of their features —

1.  Non-encumbrance provisions
These would not be absolutely held property. When the land finally comes into use, the holder of the certificate will automatically receive 1/10th of 1% of the value and economic activity of that acre, but have no other control over that land (unless he went up there and occupied it before someone else did). The name of the original purchaser of the bond title, and of the current holder of that title, would be inscribed on a corner marker at such time as the process of settlement of Mars made that feasible, and meanwhile would be kept in a central Registry. Titles would be good for two hundred Earth years following date of founding of the first permanent human colony settlement on Mars.

(Why a sunset clause in the first place? An extra incentive to those holders who want major returns for their descendants, to continue boosting the pace of settlement.)

The reason that title-holder would have no other control over the land (unless he came and settled it himself) is that we want no encumbrances on the land itself, nothing that could get in the way of the best solutions for development and terraforming. For example, redirecting comets to impact Mars, as a means of warming and watering the planet, has been one of the terraforming proposals (though with the discovery of liberal supplies of water already there that may not be necessary). Handling the physics of that is enough difficulty — we'd not want an encumbrance from someone with title to lands in the intended impact area, nor liability. Finding everyone with such titles, much less negotiating with them, would bog down the project. So this feature has to be made clear as a condition of sale of the title instrument.

Nor do we want to create precedence for overriding public domain provisions as would have to be required were these titles for property held in the usual way. Government has more than enough power in these regards as it is, without having to create even greater such. So this unconventional non-encumbrance provision has to be an aspect of the fund-raising lease-bond title certificates.

2.  Address registry
Bond title would remain good only if the address of its holder has been registered within the previous ten years. One condition of this program has to be well publicized, easy access to the re-registering of addresses, with public reminders annually. These reminders could be a ceremonial feature in the public holidays which will eventually be created to celebrate the first manned landing on Mars and/or the founding of the first permanent human settlement there.

3.  Bonds as property
These bonds would not only be parts of estates, but could be bought and sold as property. A 5% transaction tax would come out of every purchase, enough to discourage speculation but not enough to really affect liquidity and utility of the titles. The original owner's purchase would not be taxed.

4.  Tax deduction
It would probably be a good idea for the original purchase of these bonds to be deductible from taxable income. However, I see no compelling reason to exempt the eventual income from these bonds from such taxes as are current at the time. If things go as intended, revenues from this source might even obviate all other taxes, 100-150 years from now.

O

Allocation of funds from purchase of these titles

Half goes to a general fund earmarked directly for the settlement and terraforming of Mars and, initially, development of vehicles to make that feasible on a large scale.

The other half can, if purchaser wishes, also go to that fund or it can go directly to the space-development firm or project of his choice. We have to have at least that much going to independently selected projects, in order to keep the development of space broad-based and, especially, to avoid precluding possible promising options by straining everything through "golden fleece award"-conscious bureaucratic and political selection.

We should, in fact, encourage the purchaser to opt for directing that half of his funds to his own choice of projects or enterprises. Incentives from such provision:  being and staying informed means staying involved and interested. Firms and projects competing for these resources will find it worth their while to keep the public informed and involved and interested, especially as regards unconventional new approaches and efforts by small new enterprises, where most real breakthroughs historically have always emerged from. A better-informed bond-buying public will tend to mean better choices made within the space industry.

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General features

The entire plan should make as little encumbrance upon actual operations as possible, and as little burden as possible upon central record-keeping. Thus, if some particular acre-bond has not had the address of its (current) holder registered within the previous ten years (perhaps with an additional grace period of a year or so), that acre is once again unowned, the original bond void, and a new bond can be issued for it.

At the same time, it appears that sufficient incentive exists in this plan, interacting with the more usual motives, to improve by many billions of dollars per year the necessary funding for more rapid development of space. And this funding will go to a better spread and selection of project targets than would be the case with the feeding-frenzy set off by an expanded direct provision of funding from government.

O

Improving space development

Here are two additional notes bearing upon improved pace and quality of space development:

o   Please examine the inexpensive launch system proposed in the Inventions section of this website. Note that not only is that system remarkably economical (per unit of payload) by current standards, but also features declining long-term cost curves, making a strong incentive to keep on expanding the volume of use and thus the development of space. This feature, on this scale, has been observed for no other launch system except the proposed space elevator, which requires major science and technology not yet developed. The economical and high-volume launch system we propose can be readily built from off-the-shelf components. I've thrown this system deliberately into public domain so that anyone can use it without my permission being needed. You have a clean shot! No pesky encumbrance from this inventor as "owner." At least take a look at it before pursuing further the current convention, throwing good money after lesser options.

o   I repeat my offer, made elsewhere, to conduct at least one gratis 3-day creativity training session for some legitimate aerospace firm, free except for expenses, to invent other, different launch systems or space drives. Given the nature of the methods through which I would walk your engineers and scientists, there is good prospect that even within those three days your firm would invent a system superior to the space launch system I've proposed. After that one session at one firm, other such training sessions will be conventionally remunerated.

A few of the methods through which we will professionally guide your scientists and engineers include:

Even a quick review of the Project Renaissance website will serve to demonstrate a very considerable range of complementary techniques for addressing the extent of scientific and technical issues. How many of these performance-enhancing procedures had you even heard of, much less taken advantage of, until now? Are there any daring experimenters reading this?

The point is that the flow of creative discovery and invention, as regards the development of space and other matters, could be much richer and more variegated than it is.

O

Conclusion
  • The point about the flow of creative discovery and invention, in the development of space and other matters, is that we — and humanity — NEED a much more rapid, more variegated and richer development of space, and that this need could become extremely urgent and critical soon.

  • The proposed new system of land-bond titles on Mars — and, with modification, elsewhere in space as well — can provide not only funding to accelerate the development of space, but a system of incentives to further accelerate it and to encourage its broad basis and variegation.
These points belong together and should be discussed, along with the companion article, "One Destiny, or Many?" Please forward these to whomever you deem appropriate in the aerospace industry and/or in the appropriate agencies. Thank you for your response.

Related Space Science Reading

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Win Wenger


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