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posted by cmn32480 on Friday November 27 2015, @01:38AM   Printer-friendly
from the space-mining dept.

An event of cosmic proportions occurred on November 18 when the US congress passed the Space Act of 2015 into law. The legislation will give US space firms the rights to own and sell natural resources they mine from bodies in space, including asteroids.

Although the act, passed with bipartisan support, still requires President Obama's signature, it is already the most significant salvo that has been fired in the ideological battle over ownership of the cosmos. It goes against a number of treaties and international customary law which already apply to the entire universe.

The new law is nothing but a classic rendition of the "he who dares wins" philosophy of the Wild West. The act will also allow the private sector to make space innovations without regulatory oversight during an eight-year period and protect spaceflight participants from financial ruin. Surely, this will see private firms begin to incorporate the mining of asteroids into their investment plans.

The act represents a full-frontal attack on settled principles of space law which are based on two basic principles: the right of states to scientific exploration of outer space and its celestial bodies and the prevention of unilateral and unbridled commercial exploitation of outer-space resources. These principles are found in agreements including the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 and the Moon Agreement of 1979.

I learned everything I need to know about asteroid mining from Rip Foster. [Read it at Project Gutenberg. -Ed.]

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  • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by aristarchus on Friday November 27 2015, @03:08AM

    by aristarchus (2645) on Friday November 27 2015, @03:08AM (#268496) Journal

    Ducking will do you no good when God realizes why you are asking what he needs with a star ship. He is, after all, a jealous god, a petty god. You do not want to get caught worshiping golden, or iridium, calves. On the other hand, this is not completely out of range for humans. Some people trace their land claims back to the Royal grants of Spain, who neither had the presence nor the jurisdiction to grant such title. Yeah, this land, it will be a fertile land, if you can conquer it and subdue or kill all the current inhabitants that do not recognize my right to grant it to you. Sounds rather like the settlers on the West Bank! Oh, no, now you see the Israeli Real Estate God will be after my ass! So back to mining. I has always been the case that people generally grant property right to those people who produce property that would not have otherwise existed. Mining claims are a version of this. On the one hand, this is the Lockean principle of ownership, whatever you mix with your labor is yours. (Of course, there is the Lockean proviso, that there has to be as much and as good of the natural resource for others to apply their labor to. Not really relevant with space, since there will nearly always be?) But let us be very clear: property rights are based upon the benefit that these rights provide to society at large, not the benefits to the right holders. They are expendable, they are the ones who take the risks, and if a whole bunch of them fail it is no skin off humanity's nose, so long as enough of them succeed, and we have a competitive market for their goods. Of course, once they try to go monopoly, best to send in the Space Marines. They may have a xenomorph on board.

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