Taxing Congestion of the Space Commons
Satellites launched by independent spacefaring agencies and firms create space congestion and collision risk. Taking as benchmark the cost of a marginal reduction of the congestion rate, we discuss tax mechanisms financing a debris removal effort. We compare the non-cooperative equilibrium traffic when there is a tax on each new launch to recover cleanup costs, with the welfare optimal traffic under a centralized tax. We find that under the latter it is twice as easy to recover cleanup costs and increase traffic than under the former. We also show that a linear tax is twice as effective as a quadratic one.