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Archive for January, 2007

No weapons in space?

Thursday, January 4th, 2007

The Federal Aviation Administration is establishing rules for human space flight that will affect the passengers and crew of private civilian spacecraft. That’s all well and good, but the FAA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking document includes the following statement (in section C.6, “Security Requirements”): “A space flight participant may not carry on board any explosives, firearms, knives, or other weapons.”
Now wait just a minute. I can understand why carrying firearms or explosives on a spacecraft is a bad idea; those things can easily make a hole in the ship and let the air out, which will ruin everyone’s day. But you can’t require the passengers and crew to be totally defenseless. How are they supposed to defend themselves against space pirates? (Come on, you know there are going to be space pirates. It’s inevitable.) All the crew of any space vessel should be armed with cutlasses and daggers, and passengers should be allowed to bring their swords as well.
Spacecraft should also be designed with racks of belaying pins in various locations; these may not have any actual function in the operation of the ship, but they make handy improvised weapons during hand-to-hand combat. And despite the lack of sails, there should be rigging. You can’t have a good swashbuckling battle without some rigging to climb around in.