All MUFON and FAA Reported UFO Cases Deferred to Bigelow Aerospace
Bigelow Aerospace is in the market of reverse engineering Alien Technology.
By Jonny Phoenix
A strange FAA directive issued back in 2010 shows that the US Government has in fact deferred all FAA UFO reports to Bigelow Aerospace raising eyebrows in the UFO investigative community.
MUFON and the FAA have been bottlenecked for their UFO information regarding UFO and/or alien technologies and the funnel leads straight to the man himself, Robert Bigelow, who was recently confronted by Jesse Ventura on this very matter in Utah after Ventura’s “Tru TV” crew investigated Robert Bigelow’s “Skinwalker Ranch”.
Yes, you just read that right, “Skinwalker Ranch” in Northeastern Utah. This facility is owned by Robert Bigelow and according to information leaked by a government official, “Skinwalker Ranch” is the site of a human murder in an encounter with aliens. During this battle one of Bigelow’s security agents was allegedly killed.
Robert Bigelow has even bought in to MUFON on a secret level offering a $750,000.00 one year grant to siphoning information from their database hiding it from public view.
Why does this ultra rich man have such a fascination with this stuff?
Bigelow Aerospaces’ official websites mission statement reads “Since 1999 our mission has been to provide affordable options for spaceflight to national space agencies and corporate clients. In 2006 and 2007, we launched our orbiting prototypes Genesis I and Genesis II. Using our patented expandable habitats, our plan is to greatly exceed the usable space of the International Space Station at a fraction of the cost by developing our next generation spacecraft.”
In the next few year Bigelow Aerospace plans to attach some of their habitats to the International Space Station (ISS) under contract with NASA.
So how does all of this tie into the FAA and MUFON?
Alfred Webre writes, “The reach of Robert Bigelow space enterprises into the FAA UFO reporting structure is official. A February 11, 2010 directive issued by the Federal Aviation Administration to the FAA Air Traffic Organization setting out how pilots and all individuals should report sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) sightings and appearing now on the FAA websitespecifically mentions an organization controlled by Las Vegas real estate and aerospace entrepreneur Robert Bigelow, stating in part that “Persons wanting to report UFO/unexplained phenomena activity should contact a UFO/ unexplained phenomena reporting data collection center, such as Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies (BAASS)…, the National UFO Reporting Center, etc..”
The Examiner.com article continues to read;
Reached by this reporter at his office in Las Vegas, Dr. Colm A. Kelleher, BAASS Deputy Administrator confirmed that BAASS has an office established to receive UFO reports. He stated that the monthly volume of UFO reports received by BAASS is “infrequent.” Dr. Kelleher stated that BAASS received no FAA funds for receiving UFO reports. This reporter verified that BAASS UFO hotline staff was on duty to receive UFO reports.
Dr. Kelleher and Mark Easter, public relations director for Colorado-based MUFON, gave Examiner.com an exclusive insight into the state of relations between the for-profit BAASS organization, and MUFON, a non-profit, tax-exempt organization that with approximately 2500 members in 50 states remains one of the largest UFO organizations in the world. In the article below, Examiner.com evaluates the future of this hybrid partnership for leading edge UFO research into “cases where physical effects of a UFO are reported or where ‘living beings’ are allegedly sighted or where ‘reality transformation’ is said to occur.”
The FAA and the Bigelow organizations
Although the FAA video has now reportedly been removed from the FAA website, the very existence of the video illustrates the penetration of Mr. Bigelow’s enterprises into the FAA’s UFO reporting mandate.
The specific mention of Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies (BAASS) in FAA Air Traffic Organization manuals for UFO reporting procedures follows a reported mention of a BAASS predecessor organization, the now-defunct National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS) also founded by space entrepreneur Robert Bigelow.
One informed source interviewed speculates that the reported specific references to NIDS and subsequently to BAASS in FAA UFO reporting procedures are a result of Mr. Bigelow’s entrepreneurial connections within the aerospace industry, and within the FAA itself. The FAA’s reported removal of the UFO video from the prominence of its website, according to another of the sources interviewed, resulted from the “can of worms” the FAA realized they had opened by naming individual UFO reporting organization such as BAASS, once the UFO video was on the FAA website and other UFO reporting organizations registered complaints.
BAASS and MUFON: A Hybrid Partnership Under Review – The Thesis
According to one report of the hybrid partnership for UFO and extraterrestrial research between for-profit BAASS and non-profit, volunteer-driven MUFON, “The agreement between Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies (BAASS) and MUFON sets up a “Star Team Impact Project” (SIP), with an initial funding period from five months to a year, with the option to renew for a second year. Investigations will be limited to cases where physical effects of a UFO are reported or where ‘living beings’ are allegedly sighted or where ‘reality transformation’ is said to occur. ‘Lights seen in the sky’ do not qualify for paid investigation, a decision with which [UFO researcher J. Allen] Hynek would have surely agreed. Anyone who is already a MUFON investigator can apply for a position with SIP, although new or inexperienced investigators are expected to demonstrate their skills by performing investigations of routine UFO sightings before moving up to SIP. Additionally, Bigelow is in the process of contracting up to fifty scientists, who are expected to be on the scene within twenty-four hours after significant UFO incidents, to perform state-of-the-art investigations of whatever artifacts or data the SIP investigators may obtain. All of the investigators’ travel expenses will be covered, as well as a paid stipend of $100 per day of investigation. Incentive payments and bonuses are also available for those whose contributions excel.”
Follow the Money – The Antithesis
Both BAASS’s Dr. Kelleher and MUFON’s Mark Easter stated to this reporter that Star Impact Project operations and communication in this hybrid relationship between BAASS and MUFON under their agreement were good in 2009, and both hope for good relations in 2010. The BAASS-MUFON hybrid agreement is now under temporary suspension pending after a review. Both BAASS’s Dr. Kelleher and MUFON’s Mark Easter appear to positive and upbeat about the success of the “Star Team Impact Project” (SIP) model experiment, and to hope that the BAASS-MUFON agreement is renewed at the conclusion of the review.
On examination of confidential BAASS-MUFON documents that were anonymously leaked to this reporter, it is clear that a clash of corporate and non-profit cultures and lack of mutual communication framework between an accounting-oriented corporate contractor and a mission-driven volunteer organization – rather than any wrong action – triggered the temporary suspension and review of the hybrid arrangement that parties in both organizations seem to want to continue.
Whatever the case the information is funneled right to Robert Bigelow. This guy also has plans to inhabit the moon. He wants to see vacation facilities on the moon in the near future.
NORTH LAS VEGAS—An inflatable space pod to be attached to the International Space Station in a couple of years will be like no other piece of the station. NASA is contracting a private company to build an inflatable space pod for the International Space Station. Instead of metal, its walls will be made of floppy cloth, making it easier to launch (and then inflate). NASA said Wednesday that it had signed a $17.8 million contract with Bigelow Aerospace to build the module, which could reach the space station as soon as 2015.
We were driving to Lake Tahoe, my wife and I, headed north on one of the most breathtaking highways in the world, U.S. 395 along the eastern spine of the Sierra Nevada. The winter sun had dropped behind the jagged mountains and we had already been on the road a couple of hours since leaving Los Angeles. It was time to find a motel and dinner and especially wine.
She said something like, “What’s that light? Is that the next town?” It was very big and very bright, and I had also been wondering if it announced the next strip of traveler services. Or maybe it was a radio tower. But then the light would be blinking, and red, like radio tower lights. And while we were looking at this light, it became a very large black triangular-shaped airship of some kind, hovering nearly motionless over the desert. There were single round lights on each corner, and a huge spotlight beam out of the center—we could see it traveling over the sagebrush on the valley floor about a hundred yards off the road. I pulled over to get a better look at this tremendous shape, but it zoomed past us and became a speck of light in the southern sky before vanishing altogether. When we got to Lone Pine and checked into a motel—the Dow Villa, highly recommended and right under Mt. Whitney—I got online and looked for someone to call. It was the week after Christmas 2001, and at that time an organization run by Robert Bigelow took reports of “black triangles,” supposedly under contract with the FAA. Then, as now, the massive low-flying silent ships were regularly spotted by drivers on the open road.
We filled out an online report at the National Institute for Discovery Science website. Once we were back in L.A., a NIDS investigator called, claiming to be a former FBI agent. And that’s what he sounded like, if you’d ever seen “The X-Files.”
The National Institute for Discovery Science, or NIDS, spent a lot of time and money collecting reports of “Big Black Deltas.” In 2004, it published its inconclusive findings, which made it to Space.com and MSNBC:
A key NIDS conclusion is that the actions of these triangular craft do not conform to previous patterns of covert deployment of unacknowledged aircraft. Furthermore, “neither the agenda nor the origin of the Flying Triangles are currently known.” The years 1990-2004 have seen an intense wave of Flying Triangle aircraft, the study observes. Sifting through reports by hundreds of eyewitnesses, the NIDS assessment states that the behavior of the vehicles “does not appear consistent with the covert deployment of an advanced DoD [U.S. Department of the Defense] aircraft.”
Rather, it is consistent with (a) the routine and open deployment of an unacknowledged advanced Defense Department aircraft or (b) the routine and open deployment of an aircraft owned and operated by personnel outside the Defense Department, suggests the NIDS study.
“The implications of the latter possibility are disturbing, especially during the post-9/11 era when the United States airspace is extremely heavily guarded and monitored,” the NIDS study explains. “In support of option (a), there is much greater need for surveillance in the United States in the post-9/11 era, and it is certainly conceivable that deployment of low-altitude surveillance platforms is routine and open.”
[…] In wrapping up its look at the burgeoning number of Flying Triangle sightings in the United States, NIDS also took into account the work of writers and researchers delving into the topic both in the United States and abroad. Those analyses fall into two camps: One says the Triangles are human-made, while the other says they are not.
Robert Bigelow then shut down his Las Vegas-based Institute For Discovery Science and announced a new company, Bigelow Aerospace. An earlier NIDS study suggested that the triangles were “lighter-than-air, blimp-style craft of the U.S. military’s making” powered by new “electrokinetic/field drives, or airborne nuclear power units.” The silent deltas reported around America in the 1990s and early 2000s may well have been prototypes of the massive airships that have just gone into official production in Southern California. Or maybe these monster blimps that will carry tanks and helicopters to Afghanistan are something altogether different—the black triangles have been seen worldwide for half a century now, with some sightings dating to World War II.
The idea of NIDS fascinated me, both then and now. This was an actual paranormal investigations organization, and the more I looked into it, the more fascinating it became. Bigelow, who made a fortune from the extended-stay motel chain Budget Suites of America, had for years been pouring money into paranormal studies at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. The physics lab at UNLV is named for Bigelow, who also gave $3.7 million to “for the creation and continuation of a program that would attract to the university renowned experts on aspects of human consciousness.” A parapsychologist named Charles Tart was the Bigelow Chair of the program, which dealt with “altered states of consciousness, near-death experiences and extrasensory perception.”
NIDS assembled a team that would go into the field, investigating weird places and strange events. It even purchased a Utah ranch with a history of UFO sightings and “skinwalkers,” a kind of ancient monster which apparently travels through dimensional portals on the property. These things would routinely turn into werewolves and terrorize the ranch’s caretakers and animals. The house itself was a paranoid nightmare, with a long hallway lined with closets that locked from the inside.
The top man at NIDS is a familiar name to anyone who ever waded into these esoteric topics: Retired U.S. Army Col. John B. Alexander, the real-life psychic Jedi warrior in Jon Ronson’s book The Men Who Stare At Goats. Alexander is called “Col. Harold E. Phillips” in longtime Vanity Fair reporter Howard Blum’s book about Reagan-era UFO hunting by the Pentagon, Out There The Government’s Secret Quest for Extraterrestrials. The rest of the NIDS crew had similarly spooky backgrounds.
What did Bigelow find out during his years as the benefactor of a well-funded Scooby Gang of paranormal researchers from the Pentagon? Maybe nothing—the mysteries of consciousness and reports of the bizarre have baffled even the most dedicated minds. Maybe thinking about extended-stay motels and reports of space-worthy stealth blimps just gave him a good idea for a cheap space station. In any case, if you have enough money, you can book an extended stay in one of Bigelow’s planned private orbital motels right now: “$26.25 million for a 60-day stay, including the ride to orbit atop a Falcon 9 rocket built by Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX,” according to The New York Times, which will always write about travel for the rich but very rarely about rich people investigating werewolves.
North Las Vegas is a 20-minute drive from the loud fantasy of the Strip. In this quieter part of the Mojave Desert, Robert Bigelow’s own fantasy is coming to fruition. His Bigelow Aerospace owns 50 acres of dirt and scrub where he’s put up a few sun-beaten buildings largely resembling those of the neighboring beer distributor and flooring contractor. Except that Allied Flooring Services isn’t barricaded behind two rows of razor-topped fence. Nor does it have a small militia of roving guards whose shoulder patches depict a bulbous-headed alien.
The concertina and armed patrols suggest that Bigelow is up to something unusual, something expensively unusual and quite sensitive. Bigelow, 67, doesn’t let members of the public behind the wire, but is happy to talk about what he’s doing there.
He’s building hotels. Orbiting hotels. High-tech, low-cost inflatable space stations 228 miles above sea level. If the future for humanity is in space, and Bigelow believes it is, we will need a place to stay. Bigelow made a fortune in his lifetime building affordable places to stay on Earth. In the last 15 years he has spent $210 million of his own money, and he says he will spend up to $500 million overall, in order to prove that space is a safe place for a passionate entrepreneurs.
“We have a way of building stations that are far less expensive, far more safe and can be built more quickly,” says Bigelow. “And the timing is right.”
He says he is in talks with more than a dozen nations and has “memorandums of understanding” from countries including Japan, the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, Australia and the United Kingdom. In February NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver visited Bigelow Aerospace’s plant in North Las Vegas, and the agency is currently evaluating the company’s expandable modules for use as expansions to the International Space Station.
It would be easy to write Robert Bigelow off as an eccentric. He gave $3.7 million to the University of Nevada Las Vegas to establish a “consciousness studies” program that taught classes about life after death. He gave an estimated $10 million to fund the now-defunct UFO-hunting National Institute for Discovery Science. In 1996 he bought a 480-acre Utah cattle ranch that some believe is the site of an interdimensional doorway used by alien shape-shifters and stationed watchers there.
Bigelow’s success is evident otherwise. FORBES estimates his real estate empire is worth $700 million. Bigelow is entirely self-made and owns all his companies and properties outright, including the Budget Suites chain of residential hotels and more than 14,000 apartment and office units across the Southwest.
Inflatable space habitats (as opposed to the hard aluminum-hulled canisters now in use on the International Space Station) may sound wild, but the technology is real. Bigelow’s prototypes have been orbiting Earth since 2006. He’s at work on a massive expansion of his plant in North Las Vegas that will double the amount of available floor space to 340,000 square feet; inside, he’s building a scale model of the Sundancer, the first habitat he plans to launch into space. When that’s completed, he’ll build a model of its big brother, the BA330: At 11,600 cubic feet, it has nearly as much volume as the entire ISS (see chart, p. 158).
By 2016 Bigelow expects to have a fully functioning station in orbit and to begin charging rent for it. Prices start at $28,750,000 per astronaut for a 30-day tour. That’s a lot of money, he admits, but says economies of scale will drive the price down quickly. He also points out it’s still less than the estimated $35 million Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté paid in 2009 for 12 days aboard the International Space Station (see Laliberté’s story in his own words).
“Bigelow is absolutely viable,” says Phil McAlister, NASA’s acting director for commercial space flight development. “We’re very interested to see how they proceed.”
The market for privately funded space companies is real. This July NASA plans to launch its final Space Shuttle mission; when it concludes, the U.S. government will have to rely on foreign governments and private companies to get into space, including the transport of cargo and crew to the ISS. The U.S. space business had estimated revenue of $40.9 billion in 2010, according to the Aerospace Industries Association, up 18% from revenue of $33.6 billion in 2005. “In ten years time the revenues will be more than double what they are today,” says David Todd, senior space analyst for aerospace consulting firm Ascend.
Wealthy entrepreneurs are scrambling for position. Elon Musk, cofounder of PayPal, is developing new rockets and reusable spacecraft at his company, SpaceX, and has already won a $1.6 billion government contract to carry cargo to the ISS after the shuttle fleet shuts down. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is developing a suborbital vehicle at his company Blue Origin. John Carmack, the videogame programmer and cofounder of id Software, has a rocketry startup called Armadillo Aerospace. And Richard Branson is planning to take tourists on jaunts into low-orbit space via Virgin Galactic.
“Space is not just in the realm of government anymore,” says Peter Diamandis, founder and chairman of the X Prize Foundation and chief executive of Zero Gravity Corp., which operates weightlessness flights.
“People were frustrated by the lack of progress in space, and they decided to step up and make something happen,” says George Whitesides, chief executive of Virgin Galactic.
President Obama’s 2011 budget has increased the amount of NASA’s budget that goes to commercial partnerships, including allocating $6 billion over five years for commercial crew services. NASA’s McAlister says the relationship between the public agency and private industry is changing quickly. “It’s more of a partnership,” he says. “It used to be Here’s what I want, go build it.’ Now we’ll give them higher-level goals. We’re letting the private sector figure out the most cost-effective way.”
There’s strong evidence that private industry can do the job as well or better than government. In April a NASA study estimated that SpaceX spent $390 million developing its Falcon 9 rocket and launch vehicle, but if NASA had done the same work, it would have cost between $1.7 billion and $4 billion.
Says Elon Musk: “It’s certainly possible that we could be ferrying astronauts to [Bigelow’s] space station at some point.”
Robert Bigelow runs his businesses out of a Tudor mansion just east of the Strip. The place is the antithesis of space age. Thick curtains block the sun from his office, which are lush quarters reminiscent of an Old West hotel. Sepia-toned photos decorate the walls next to displays of arrowheads and knives. A shotgun leans casually against the fireplace like a forgotten umbrella. Some anomalies creep in: On one wall there’s a letter written by Edgar Cayce, the American psychic credited with founding the New Age movement. A bookshelf contains multiple copies of the title UFOs and Nukes.
“I grew up here in Las Vegas,” says Bigelow. “This was a unique town because it was the only place where you could stand out in your yard and watch [rocket] launches or a nuclear bomb go off.”
Strange occurrences in the desert also made deep impressions. According to a family story, Bigelow’s grandparents Tom and Delta Thebo were driving across Mount Charleston near Las Vegas in 1947 and saw a glowing UFO approach their car, make a 90-degree turn and blast into space. When Bigelow heard the tale, it cemented his interest in space and the paranormal.
But Bigelow never wanted to work for NASA–he wanted to explore the universe on his own terms. “I decided early on that I had to find some way of being involved in space and that I needed to make some money to be able to do it,” he says. “Real estate was the medium.” Bigelow’s father was a broker, so the notion of selling property was a familiar concept and seemed like a reliable path to wealth. So he studied real estate and banking at Arizona State University and, after graduating in 1967, got to work.
He started by borrowing $20,000 from a hard money lender, paying ten points and 10% interest. “I used that money to buy something that I thought was the safest kind of investment I could make,” he says, meaning small rental apartment complexes. By 1970, at only 26 years old, he owned about 100 apartments in Las Vegas and had begun work on his first new construction, a 40-unit apartment building. “I built a number of apartment complexes after that,” says Bigelow. “And finally I got down to where the floor plans were pretty fine-tuned, the facades were fine-tuned, and it was natural for that to evolve into some kind of a chain.”
In 1988 he founded Budget Suites of America, a chain of extended-stay hotels, essentially offering apartments for rent by the week. They appeal to temporary or migrant workers, like the kind who work at hotels and casinos, and emphasize affordability and convenience, not luxury. A Budget Suite hotel might have 300 units in one location, far more than other extended-stay hotels, which cater to more-upscale business travelers.
The business worked so well it provided a model for Bigelow Aerospace, founded in 1996: Just like his hotels, Robert Bigelow would make space stations that were cheap, efficient and available for monthly lease.
Blow-up spacecraft were first developed at NASA in the 1960s. Early prototypes consisted of thick Mylar balloons. Later versions used rubber bladders surrounded by Kevlar. When Congress killed the program’s funding in 2000, Bigelow licensed the government patents and began modernizing them for commercial development.
Bigelow says that in the three most important measures of a space station’s viability–volume, ability to take impact and radiation protection–his expandable systems work much better than traditional hard-sided metal habitats. “We’ve done high-velocity impact testing,” he says. “You shoot a particle at 7 kilometers a second. … The shield that surrounds these habitable systems can defeat those particles much better than the aluminum cans do.”
Bigelow set up his first factory building in North Las Vegas shortly after beginning operations. By 2006 he had spent nearly $75 million on prototypes and was ready to put his first habitat to the test. His Genesis I spacecraft went into space that July on a Russian rocket. It inflated to 14 feet long by 8 feet in diameter and still orbits 350 miles above Earth.
Since then he has accelerated his investments (Bigelow estimates he spent an additional $105 million between 2006 and 2010, and $30 million in the last 12 months) and scaled up his plans. He now offers a wide variety of rental options to suit. An two-astronaut three-month lease on a Sundancer station will cost you $97.5 million; a one-year lease costs $390 million. For those clients with truly cosmic aspirations, a top-of-the-line, 12-astronaut, four-year lease on a larger BA330 station is priced at $440 million a year.
Each lease is all-inclusive, covering a set number of flights for astronauts to and from the module per year, the assistance and support of an onboard Bigelow crew, station maintenance, living supplies, communications and astronaut-training programs. “Our business has always been to create the structures, the environment, for people to do a variety of activities, not for us to conduct those activities ourselves,” he says. “Think of it as if we’re building a regional shopping mall.”
Bigelow is even offering payment plans. Can’t swing that $28.75 million for a 30-day visit? Buy now and spread out your lease over three 10-month periods, with only 30% of your total obligation due in 2012.
“We don’t sell anything, we lease it. Otherwise the checks would be a lot larger,” Bigelow says. “And my background is banking and real estate and all of that. . I’m like a general contractor, making sure that you have something that is useful and is affordable.”
Still, at those prices, who would consider a lease affordable? Bigelow’s first target is governments. There are more than 50 countries with an official space agency, he says, but nowhere to go and no real access to the International Space Station. The vast majority of astronauts on the ISS have been American and Russian.
In 2006 Bigelow had Chile’s only astronaut visit him in his Las Vegas office. “He was convinced he’ll never fly. Absolutely convinced,” says Bigelow. “And it was at that time I realized there could be a logical market for national clients, because where else are they going to go?”
Corporate clients might be harder to come by but would probably be drawn from sectors that deal with material sciences, particularly engineering or metallurgy, where a low-gravity environment would make possible types of research and production that are impossible or prohibitively expensive on Earth. Medical and pharmaceutical companies might benefit for the same reasons.
Beyond that, Bigelow sees wide possibilities. “Might they be used for movie studios? Yeah, but I don’t know how seriously,” he says. “Will there someday be a space hotel? Sure. Or maybe several.”
Just don’t expect Bigelow to provide the hospitality himself. “It isn’t our business to operate a hotel,” he says. “Our business is to provide the structure for someone like Richard Branson to come in and say, Okay, I want to operate a tourist facility.’” (For his part, Branson is circumspect: “That’s something we may well be able to do one day,” he says.)
If all goes according to plan, by 2014 Bigelow will begin constructing an orbital space complex referred to as “Space Complex Alpha”–at least until he sells the naming rights. Alpha will consist of a complex of connected spacecraft: a Sundancer and a BA330 for customer use, a second Sundancer that will house Bigelow crew to maintain the station and a module that provides a power bus and docking node.
The problem of how to get all that material into space has yet to be resolved. Bigelow is collaborating with Boeing on a commercial crew capsule that may eventually provide transit. Another option is Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which has successfully tested the Dragon spacecraft it will eventually use to supply the ISS. “They’ve already been there and done that,” says Bigelow. “Not only did their rocket work, but they landed within less than a mile of their target. They retrieved their spacecraft. This is the real deal.”
Another tenant could be the first lunar mining expeditions. The moon contains large concentrations of helium-3, a nonradioactive isotope that’s rare on Earth but could be an incredibly valuable fuel for nuclear fusion. Acquiring those lunar resources was always too difficult and expensive to make lunar mining anything more than a fantasy. But Bigelow argues the balance of risk and reward is changing with low-cost private rockets and his own inflatable space stations, which could be modified for surface use.
He’s convinced there’s an even better reason there will be demand for cheap, easily installed lunar bases. It’s an idea he’s never talked about publicly but is convinced is inevitable: a Chinese lunar land grab.
The Outer Space Treaty, a 1967 agreement that forms the basis of international space law, has been signed by every major power on Earth. It establishes that the resources of the moon should be shared and that while sovereign nations may explore or build bases, they cannot claim land as their own and must be open to a wide range of United Nations rules, regulations and inspections.
But a few paragraphs from the end of the treaty, in Article 16, Bigelow points out a detail he believes will radically change the future of space exploration. Any signatory to the treaty can send a letter of withdrawal and 12 months later will have been recognized to have withdrawn from the treaty. “Now, can you think of a particular country that is very impressive, that is extraordinary in its potential and its power and its capacity and that has made no bones about going to the moon?”
If China pulls a land grab, Bigelow says, America’s only option will be to withdraw from the treaty as well and send its own personnel to the moon to start claiming American territory. And they’ll have to turn to commercial providers like Bigelow Aerospace to do it. “Without the private sector, this country is not capable of doing that or getting there in time. It will be too little, too late.”