Musk's latest stunt is out of this world, so to speak. He's found a great loophole surrounding the lack of legal regulation around sending a sports car into space.
One point scored to Musk, though unsure whether the mission will go ahead, he has fabricated what could be the greatest of stunts to gain media attention and publicity around the Tesla Roadster. And, so far, his plan has worked. With Tech Media outlets going crazy for the concept - Engadget, Tech Crunch and the likes all publishing updates on the saga as they are released.
The Verge has taken the most logical response delving deeper into the legality of Musk's stunt. They clarify "honouring planetary protection is a matter of international law, as it’s mandated in the Outer Space Treaty — a 50-year-old document that dictates guidelines for what countries can and cannot do in space".
It will be interesting to watch and see developments in what is starting to become a problem as space companies propose more ambitious missions, and marketer's find new ways to market.
But when a mission involves more than launching satellites, that’s where companies enter something of a Wild West scenario. There is no framework for overseeing a company’s actions in space; once a vehicle deploys from a rocket into orbit, that’s where federal jurisdiction ends. “The FAA’s authority is over the launch vehicle; once the payload separates, they have no authority there,” says Weeden. That’s starting to become a problem as space companies propose more ambitious missions. The US government needs a way to ensure that companies won’t get the nation in trouble by violating the Outer Space Treaty while in space. And planetary protection is definitely a concern, as more companies talk about sending spacecraft to the Moon or Mars. The treaty states that countries should explore other worlds and “conduct exploration of them to avoid their harmful contamination.”