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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) by khallow on Saturday November 28 2015, @12:31PM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday November 28 2015, @12:31PM (#269072) Journal

    Seems like that deadline sailed back in October of 1968!

    That's not the meaning of that clause. As I noted earlier, the Outer Space Treaty is structured so that it is easy to abandon it. And if you think about it, it's a reasonable thing to do. Most of the people involved in the original treaty would not have wanted to arbitrarily limit the future of the world, just because of a poorly thought-out treaty or create a situation where a rogue nation willing to violate treaty ends up with a powerful advantage.

    Ah, the whims of rogue nations! The United States is unlikely to be one of those again, for a while, because it looks like the remnants of the Nixon administration (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, "If the president does it, it's not illegal!) will not be in power ever again.

    That is an absurd claim to make. At the political level, everyone ignores the rules when they can get away with it, such as a fair number of ongoing and unaddressed scandals in the current, non-Nixon remnant administration.