Waring Drive

by Belle Waring on July 16, 2006

What does my brother have to do with Bigelow Aerospace, asks internet legend Gary Farber. (I posted here about the sucessful launch of a 1/3 scale prototype for Bigelow’s inflatable modules, meant to be connected into a space station. You can read more about it here at Space.com.) Well, long ago Ben decided he wanted to be a space lawyer. And we all supported him. Sort of. Supported him in a way where you’re like “riiiight, cool idea, man.” And, to be frank, we said lots of things like “‘I space object, space your honor!’ ‘Space overruled!!'” John unhelpfully suggested that Ben, perhaps clad in a Nehru jacket-ed suit and boots, could someday be part of a thrilling, 2001-like scene in which he would toss a metallic capsule containing a scroll of papers at someone against the majestically rotating background of a space station, and then when the guy caught it say “you’re seeeerved!” But then he got into Penn Law, and that was pretty cool. And he went to GW for a one-year program in Space Policy. And now he’s assistant to the general counsel at Bigelow! They need lawyers to negotiate with other companies, and with the governments of the US and Russia, and to organize insurance, and make sure they are complying with the various regulations governing the export of missile technology. Also, to make sure the lasers they have pointed at James Bond’s crotch are up to code. A picture of Ben is in space right now, inside the module, which is pretty much the definition of awesome. He’s obviously on track to be the first person in our family to go into space. I hope that our descendents will pour a 40 out onto the frozen methane of Triton in his honor, where it will crackle into amber shards. It’s actually really one of my main goals in life to go into space before I die, and see the earth from orbit. I don’t care if I’m an old lady squandering my children’s inheritance on some 16 hour tourist flight so I can see what vomit looks like in 0g, I’m going. When I was a kid my dad told me that I had to grow up and “invent Waring Drive, to take mankind to the stars.” (Stoned people can be super-inspiring, if you’re 7.) It hasn’t worked out so far, but Violet’s got unusual mathematical aptitude for a 2-year-old (that is, she can count to 10 and knows how to read the numbers 1-5, and can rotate non-bilaterally-symmetrical shapes to get them into the shape sorter. Once numbers get higher than 13, though, she is less likely to “go on in the same way” reliably). Holbo Drive? It’s not as catchy, but I guess I can live with it.



bryan 07.16.06 at 1:18 pm

I’m sorry but holbo drive is cooler, as long as it is pronounced to rhyme with hobo drive.


nameless 07.16.06 at 1:20 pm

I heard the late Justice Brennan speak to the American Law Institute about 15 or more years ago about Space Law. I remember nothing about it other than it seemed so . . . remote from our experience and, as of that date, completely speculative. Has there been any actual development in this area, or is it entirely militarized?


ob 07.16.06 at 1:40 pm

dunno about ‘holbo drive’.

But the original sounds like trying to blast off with two blenders strapped to your back.

What do you set them to: liquefy? purée? hyperdrive?


Bro. Bartleby 07.16.06 at 7:52 pm

Blenders?! I have on good word that you can strap on your back a genuine rocket, right now! Let me see … oh yes, it is a Beirut address, and they have plenty of rockets … and it says right here “in need of volunteers for a most awe-inspiring flight into space” … sub-orbital of course … well, the fine print, “a flight of a very large arc” … with, in bold print, “a promise of fireworks upon your touchdown!”


shpx.ohfu 07.17.06 at 7:49 am

This 1967 treaty (Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies) seems to have started the concept. Since then, the Rescue Agreement of 1968, the Liability Convention of 1972, the Registration Convention of 1976 and the Moon Treaty of 1984 have been added. The wiki has more. For arguments advocating the extension of terrestrial private law and property rights, see, e.g., thespacereview.com.


Kieran Healy 07.17.06 at 10:55 am

Obviously, Waring Drives would be premised on the unexpected discovery of holbonic resonators, which have the unusual property of being able to pack strings of infinite length into finite spaces, thus enabling hyperspatial travel. Simple.


Henry (not the famous one) 07.17.06 at 1:09 pm


I bought an acre on the moon roughly thirty years ago; I think I can find the deed if I looked hard enough. Relatively cheap–$5.00, I think.


shpx.ohfu 07.17.06 at 1:34 pm

As the treaties seem to ban ownership of any (celestial) property except by international and governmental entites, I’m curious who conveyed that title to you. Perhaps your 30 year old purchase predated the treaties, but in that case I’d have to wonder what interest the seller possessed that he was able to convey to you. Assuming the validity of your title, your $5 investment may have some real value, but it would be no fun to be there when that particular real estate bubble bursts.



Henry (not the famous one) 07.17.06 at 1:45 pm

I was in Berkeley . . . . okay, do I have to go any further? The individual selling the tracts seemed to have some authority; he certainly had a lot of deeds. And if I read the article you linked to correctly, even bad deeds can lead to oolonization.


Henry (not the famous one) 07.17.06 at 1:47 pm

Make that colonization.


Belle Waring 07.18.06 at 2:15 am

oolonization is where you turn everything into smoky-flavored tea.


mds 07.18.06 at 1:07 pm

oolonization is where you turn everything into smoky-flavored tea.

Using holbonic flux.

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