Space Frontier Foundation Unveils Settlement Enabling Test

Artist's conception of a Bigelow lunar habitat. (Credit: Bigelow Aerospace)
Artist’s conception of a Bigelow lunar habitat. (Credit: Bigelow Aerospace)

Washington, DC (SFF PR) – The Space Frontier Foundation is pleased to announce the creation of a new tool, the Settlement Enabling Test. This tool acknowledges that our fundamental goal in space exploration is large scale space settlement, and provides a way to determine if our national space policy is delivering on the promise of space settlement. This expands on our previous Frontier Enabling Test that has been with us since our founding.

For many years, the Foundation and other organizations have been advocating for space settlement. Over the past few years, those efforts have paid off, with national policy moving towards space settlement. Some examples of this include:

  • The Vision for Space Exploration stated “The fundamental goal of this vision is to advance U.S. scientific, security, and economic interests through a robust space exploration program“
  • John Marburger, presidential science adviser for President George W. Bush, said “questions about the vision boil down to whether we want to incorporate the solar system in our economic sphere …. the question has been decided in the affirmative“
  • President Obama stated “Our goal is the capacity for people to work and learn and operate and live safely beyond the Earth for extended periods of time, ultimately in ways that are more sustainable and even indefinite.”

“The fact that space settlement has shown up multiple times at the highest level of power without regard to political party, shows that people do see the value in space settlement,” stated James Pura, President of the Space Frontier Foundation. “But it’s not enough to have a goal – we need to formally proclaim it as our goal, and we need to develop a strategy that will achieve that goal. That is what the Settlement Enabling Test allows us to do.”

The Space Frontier Foundation carefully deconstructed what the conditions are that would show large-scale space settlement is happening. It developed metrics across multiple areas, such as societal values, ensuring sustainability of space, pro-settlement legal and regulatory policy, and creating value from space. Each category has a series of questions that allow the user to measure how settlement enabling a space policy is. The intention is to apply it to various space policies (from policies no longer in existence, to policies that are still in development), and determine whether a national policy is settlement enabling. The test, along with instructions SFF uses to apply the test, can be found on the Space Frontier Foundation’s website, under the heading Settlement Enabling Test. In addition, an abbreviated version can be found in this week’s SpaceNews.

“It is our hope that as the US and other countries work to expand humanity’s use of space, elected officials and policy makers apply the Settlement Enabling Test to all of their country’s endeavors,” said the Foundation’s Policy Director, Aaron Oesterle. “This will help to improve polices, and ensure space settlement happens sooner, perhaps even in our lifetime.”