Toward multiplanetary existence? The human rights obligations of corporations on Mars
Recent technological advancements such as reusable spacecraft and 3D-printed launch vehicles have accelerated the possibility of multiplanetary existence, fueling a private-company space race to send humans to Mars by 2030. According to SpaceX’s CEO, Elon Musk, there may be about one million humans living on the Red Planet by 2060.
While the colonization of Mars remains hypothetical for now, the possibility of multiplanetary existence raises fascinating questions about the universality of the human rights framework and, more specifically, the human rights obligations of private companies on Mars.
These questions are complicated by statements contained in a SpaceX legal agreement recognizing “Mars as a free planet” and asserting that “no Earth-based government has authority or sovereignty over Martian activities.” If corporations like SpaceX argue that governments lack authority over what happens on Mars, then what human rights obligations will these businesses have toward Martian settlers?