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SpaceX says no Earth-based laws on Mars and will have its own laws

In a April 30, 2015 file photo, Tesla Motors CEO and SpaceX CEO and CTO Elon Musk introduces a new line of residential and commercial batteries. (Jerome Adamstein/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
October 30, 2020

In its Terms of Service shared with beta testers this week, Elon Musk’s SpaceX revealed its plan to provide internet on Starship vehicles and Mars itself  — and its intention to ignore all Earth-based laws when it gets there.

Twitter account WholeMarsBlog first identified the terms beta users were presented with: “For Services provided on Mars, or in transit to Mars via Starship or other colonization spacecraft, the parties recognize Mars as a free planet and that no Earth-based government has authority or sovereignty over Martian activities. Accordingly, Disputes will be settled through self-governing principles, established in good faith, at the time of Martian settlement.”

Users are expected to accept the terms of service before participating in SpaceX’s “Better Than Nothing” beta test of its Starlink internet service.  Users accepted into the beta test were offered 50-150 megabit per second internet for a $99 monthly fee and a $499 up front equipment cost.

In August, Musk had said Mars would be governed by “Direct democracy. Short, comprehensible laws voted on directly by the people.”

Last week, Musk revealed plans to develop a self-governing settlement on Mars, even noting that projects for the settlement’s development were already underway. He said creating a self-sustaining city would be the test to determine whether or not colonization on Mars would work.

“The acid test really is, if the ships from Earth stop coming for any reason, does Mars die out?” Musk said, as reported by The Independent. “If it does, then we’re not in a secure place.”

“This really might come down to: Are we going to create a self-sustaining city on Mars before or after World War 3? And I think the probability of it being created after World War 3 – hopefully there’s never a World War 3 – but the probability of after is low, so we should try and make the city self-sustaining before any possible World War 3,” Musk said.

SpaceX is currently developing the Starship spacecraft which aims to make the first trip to Mars. Musk hopes to send a crewed spacecraft to the planet as early as 2024.

SpaceX’s President Gwynne Shotwell said one of the intentions of the Starlink internet network is to enable communication for future Mars colonists.

“Once we take people to Mars, they are going to need a capability to communicate,” she told reporters, “In fact, I think it will be even more critical to have a constellation like Starlink around Mars. And then, of course, you need to connect the two planets as well.”