Orbital Development reports that it has received an official response from the United States Department of State in regard to that company’s "Eros Project" which was initiated to establish official respect for property rights in Space.
Orbital Development, in the course of its Eros Project, has claimed and owns Asteroid 433 Eros since 03 March, 2000. On 12 February, 2001 the United States landed the NEAR-Shoemaker spacecraft on the privately owned planetoid, prompting OrbDev to send an invoice to NASA for parking & storage fees totaling $20.00 for one hundred years storage. After a lengthy exchange of letters with NASA’s chief lawyer, its General Counsel, NASA refused to pay OrbDev’s invoice.
On 13 Feb 03, OrbDev sent an official and legal Notice to the United States Department of State stating that NASA had exceeded it authority in this matter and the Department of State should clarify the United States’ Executive Branch position on the critical issue of individual property rights in Space.
In a letter dated 15 Aug 03, Ralph L. Braibanti, the Director of Space and Advanced Technology in the Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, wrote, "We have reviewed the "Notice" dated February 13, 2003, that you sent to the U.S. Department of State. In the view of the Department, private ownership of an asteroid is precluded by Article II of the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies. Accordingly, we have concluded that your claim is without legal basis."
Orbital Development continues to dispute this controversial conclusion by the Department of State and will file suit in Federal court for a definitive decision that will be binding on the U.S. government.
OrbDev’s President, Gregory Nemitz, stated, "America’s Founders valued individual property rights second only to freedom of religion. This U.S. Department of State opinion is at odds with the Bill of Rights’ Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America.
OrbDev question's the government's ability to abrogate any individual’s inalienable rights via international treaties and believes that the U.S. government has no Constitutional authority to abridge an American individual’s inalienable Rights; thus the treaty Mr. Braibanti refers to can only restrict States which are a party to that treaty, and cannot restrict an American Citizen who is rightfully acting as sovereign."
OrbDev maintains that official recognition of property rights to natural objects in space is the key issue for opening the space frontier to development and the extraction of the nearly unlimited resources which are available in Space.
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Understanding The Centaurs And Kin
London - Aug 12, 2003
It's time for astronomers to abandon the traditional ways they've categorised comets and distant asteroids and for them to look at all the small bodies populating the outer solar system in a fresh light, according to four researchers writing in the 21 August issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
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