DailyDirt: Space Mining

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

It's fairly common in science fiction for space mining operations to exist, but the reality is that just getting anything into space is pretty expensive -- and there isn't all that much stuff in space that needs to get re-supplied with materials. However, the legal basis for claiming ownership of space resources may be clearing up, and a few companies might actually be driving down the costs of getting a spacecraft into space. The concept of striking a literal gold mine in space might not happen, but the technology to collect resources in space might still be valuable for future space exploration. After you've finished checking out those links, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Pixelation, 26 May 2015 @ 8:27pm

    "Any asteroid resources obtained in outer space are the property of the entity that obtained such resources, which shall be entitled to all property rights thereto, consistent with applicable provisions of Federal law."

    Que patents on minig asteroids in 3, 2, 1...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 May 2015 @ 2:51am

    What About the Outer Space Treaty?

    Something went awry so let me try again...

    The House has passed a bill containing rules for space mining rights -- allowing private companies to actually own whatever they manage to mine on any asteroids they find.


    That Act of Congress seems to breach Article 2 of the Outer SpaceTreaty 1967, which reads:

    "Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means."

    By enacting this law the US is implicitly claiming the right to enact such laws for such celestial bodies, which in turn is implicitly a claim of sovereignty over those bodies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 May 2015 @ 7:49am

      Re: What About the Outer Space Treaty?

      If I recall correctly, the outer space treaty is ambiguous on non-government entities. So the US and other countries have agreed they won't claim ownership of space objects, but... That doesn't mean they can't recognize ownership claims made by private companies? That's part of the logic behind the various companies that sell property lots on the moon and stars in the sky (for novelty purposes).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 27 May 2015 @ 9:48am

        Re: Re: What About the Outer Space Treaty?

        "That's part of the logic behind the various companies that sell property lots on the moon and stars in the sky (for novelty purposes)"

        Companies that do this are not actually selling any property at all. They are selling a certificate and an entry in a publication. No property rights are being transferred -- which is why they have to say "for novelty purposes only", which is just code for "this has no legal meaning".

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Stephen, 27 May 2015 @ 8:11pm

        Re: Re: What About the Outer Space Treaty?

        If I recall correctly, the outer space treaty is ambiguous on non-government entities.
        Doesn't look ambiguous to me. The provision you are referring to is article 6 of the treaty, which is as follows:
        States Parties to the Treaty shall bear international responsibility for national activities in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, whether such activities are carried on by governmental agencies or by non-governmental entities, and for assuring that national activities are carried out in conformity with the provisions set forth in the present Treaty. The activities of non-governmental entities in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, shall require authorization and continuing supervision by the appropriate State Party to the Treaty. When activities are carried on in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, by an international organization, responsibility for compliance with this Treaty shall be borne both by the international organization and by the States Parties to the Treaty participating in such organization.
        Rather lengthy but clear enough as far as I can see. "Non-government entities have to abide by the treaty just like their governmental counterparts; and the onus is placed on the state parties to ensure that they do so. (But note that mention of "continuing supervision". That is not likely to sit well with those who argue for corporations to to be subject to minimal (if any) governmental regulation!
        That doesn't mean they can't recognize ownership claims made by private companies?
        What use is the US "recognising" a company's claim if the laws of other spacefaring nations do not themselves recognise claims made under US laws? That would raise the prospect of companies having to register the same claim of ownership to a celestial body in multiple countries to prevent some OTHER company registering ownership of the same celestial body in one or more of those other countries.

        And that's assuming such laws are valid under the treaty anyway. If they aren't (thanks to article 2), then the only solution (short of revoking the treaty) would be a revision of the Outer Space Treaty or a new treaty. (This was actually attempted some decades ago for the Moon with the infamous Moon Treaty, but that treaty was never ratified by the US.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Alisrair, 27 May 2015 @ 8:02pm

    Asteroid mining bill

    HR1508 did NOT pass the House. It passed a committee vote only. All the media outlets are quoting the poorly written WAPO article. Google HR1508 for current status.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.