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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: 2) by FakeBeldin on Friday November 27 2015, @10:05AM

    by FakeBeldin (3360) on Friday November 27 2015, @10:05AM (#268603) Journal

    On the one hand. there's a few private companies based in the USA with the tech to almost reliably put a pod of food and supplies 100km up, that might go to the Moon (363,000km at its closest) or asteroids (Ceres orbits at 2.8AU from the Sun, about 420million km).
    On the other hand, nations such as China and India are spending money on getting to the moon and Mars (and are succeeding).

    But suppose the private companies were actually to somehow manage to do something. It might interfere with the space programs of nations. When it's nations versus private companies... I think the private companies will find that US Congress does not rule over India, nor over China. Moreover, both these nations have over a billion inhabitants, nuclear weapons, and little history of bowing down before the US.

    Now that I'm pondering this: in event of a clash, India/China might even hold the US responsible for damages, as it is US laws interfering with Chinese/Indian space travel. That'd be fun to see :)

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