Tales from the Edict 21 - The UN Take Control
Updated: Apr 30, 2021
Throughout the decade preceding the founding of the UN Solar Assembly in 2030, it became increasingly obvious that space was the new frontier and that, bar a few nations and corporations, it would remain beyond the reach of most countries except for satellite launches. By 2025 there were just four major players with deep space capability: China, Russia, the European Union with ESA, and the US. While there was plenty of low load launch capability at national and corporate level, these were confined to satellite launches and ISS replenishment missions. Already the impact of commercialisation of the space launch industry was to bring into question the cost effectiveness of national space programmes. In short, there were plenty of taxis but few going the distance at a price the public could afford.
In 2028 the US gave a clear indication that it would follow through on its promise, albeit reluctantly, to end its participation in ISS to fund the revamped mission to Mars. The Future Human Spaceflight Act of 2028 on the one hand signalled the end for ISS while on the other enabled funding for the goal of getting humanity to Mars. The remaining partners in the ISS project spent a hectic 18 months keeping the Russians on board (they had indicated they wished to reclaim the modules leant to the ISS) while searching for a funding solution to fill the large hole that would be left with the departure of the US. Driven by the British Space Agency, which itself had felt the cold shoulder of departure from the EU, a plan was put together to place ISS under a UN mandate, enabling the IGO to close the funding gap while providing a formal framework for jurisdiction beyond Earth, something that was beginning to look essential if countries were to avoid commercial rivalry morphing into national interests.
By 2030 a solution was in place. The UN would take over the ISS, re-equipping the platform for nascent governorship of immediate space adjacent to Earth with a de facto policing role. In return all contributions toward the UN upkeep would increase 0.25-0.45% depending on national GDP, and module construction would be handled by remaining participant nations.
In fact, funding through the UN allowed both America and Russia continued access to ISS and, despite objections raised by the US, China and eventually North Korea would be granted access to the ISS in 2036 and 2041 respectively; by which time the space station was in continuous operation over 40 years, rendering a large part of the station technically obsolete. Continued support came primarily from the remaining participating space agencies: ISRO (INDIA), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), CSA (Canada), the Commonwealth Nations (UK, Australia, New Zealand plus Canada) and South Korea as a latter-day partner.
In 2037 the first of the UN’s mandated space patrol vehicles was lifted into orbit from Boca Chica aboard a six-times flown Starship assembly. The ISS is maintained and resupplied principally by ISRO and JAXA launch systems. In 2038 a pair of Synoid Typemaster debris collection space vehicles were launched into low and orbit where the task of cleaning space junk from LEO has been assigned to the UN Solar Assembly with funding by all major parties and insurers following the Hwan-TomTom satellite collision of 2033.
As of 2041 the UN Solar Assembly has a total fleet of one orbital platform (ISS), one space patrol vehicle and three Typemasters in operation.