Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe free to our newsletters via your




















IRON AND ICE
Who owns space
by Gbenga Oduntan, International Commercial Law, University of Kent
Kent, UK (The Conversation) Nov 27, 2015


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 unbriddled 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.

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.

Supporters argue that the US Space Act is a bold statement that finally sets private spaceflight free from the heavy regulation of the US government. The misdiagnosis begins here. Space exploration is a universal activity and therefore requires international regulation.

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 unbriddled 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.

The US House Committee on Science, Space and Technology denies there is anything in the act which violates the US's international obligations. According to this body, the right to extract and use resources from celestial bodies "is affirmed by State practice and by the US State Department in Congressional testimony and written correspondence".

Crucially, there is no specific reference to international law in this statement. Simply relying on US legislation and policy statements to justify the plans is obviously insufficient.

So what's at stake? We can assume that the list of states that have access to outer space - currently a dozen or so - will grow. These states may also shortly respond with mining programmes of their own. That means that the pristine conditions of the cradle of nature from which our own Earth was born may become irrevocably altered forever - making it harder to trace how we came into being. Similarly, if we started contaminating celestial bodies with microbes from Earth, it could ruin our chances of ever finding alien life there.

Mining minerals in space could also damage the environment around the Earth and eventually lead to conflict over resources. Indeed what right has the second highest polluter of the Earth's environment got to proceed with some of the same corporations in a bid to plunder outer space?

While we're not there yet, developments towards actual space mining may begin to occur within a decade.

A province of all mankind
Ultimately, the US plans must be understood in the light of existing rules of space law. Money is not a dirty word in space - the total value of the satellite telecommunications industry in 2013 was more than $195bn. Free market principles also apply to the operations of the International Space Station. So, let's get down to the nitty-gritty.

Currently corporations can exploit outer space in a number of ways, including for space tourism and scientific training. Companies may also be allowed to extract certain resources, but the very first provision of the Outer Space Treaty (1967), to which the US is a signatory, is that such exploration and use shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries. This therefore prevents the sale of space-based minerals for profit. The treaty also states that outer space shall be the "province of all mankind ... and that states shall avoid harmful contamination of space".

Meanwhile, the Moon Agreement (1979) has in effect forbidden states to conduct commercial mining on planets and asteroids until there is an international regime for such exploitation. While the US has refused to sign up to this, it is binding as customary international law.

The idea that American companies can on the basis of domestic laws alone systematically exploit mineral resources in space, despite huge environmental risks, really amounts to the audacity of greed. The Romans had this all correctly figured out in their legal maxim: "What concerns all must be decided upon by all."

This article appeared in the online magazine The Conversation

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

.


Related Links
Sovereignty and Jurisdiction in Airspace and Outer Space: Legal Criteria for Spatial Delimitation
Asteroid and Comet Mission News, Science and Technology






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
IRON AND ICE
President Obama signs bill recognizing asteroid resource property rights into law
Redmond WA (SPX) Nov 26, 2015
Planetary Resources, the asteroid mining company, applauds President Obama who signed the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (H.R. 2262) into law. This law recognizes the right of U.S. citizens to own asteroid resources they obtain and encourages the commercial exploration and utilization of resources from asteroids. "This is the single greatest recognition of property rights ... read more


IRON AND ICE
Gaia's sensors scan a lunar transit

SwRI scientists explain why moon rocks contain fewer volatiles than Earth's

All-female Russian crew starts Moon mission test

Russian moon mission would need 4 Angara-A5V launches

IRON AND ICE
ExoMars prepares to leave Europe for launch site

Tracking down the 'missing' carbon from the Martian atmosphere

Mars to lose its largest moon, Phobos, but gain a ring

Study: Mars to become a ringed planet following death of its moon

IRON AND ICE
The Ins and Outs of NASA's First Launch of SLS and Orion

Aerojet Rocketdyne tapped for spacecraft's crew module propulsion

Brits Aim for the Stars with Big Bucks on Offer to Conquer Final Frontier

XCOR develops Lynx Simulator

IRON AND ICE
China launches Yaogan-29 remote sensing satellite

China's indigenous SatNav performing well after tests

China's scientific satellites to enter uncharted territory

China to launch Dark Matter Satellite in mid-December

IRON AND ICE
Russian-US Space Collaboration Intact Despite Chill in Bilateral Ties

ISS EarthKAM ready for student imaging request

Partners in Science: Private Companies Conduct Valuable Research on the Space Station

SAGE III Leaves Langley for Journey to ISS

IRON AND ICE
Rocket launch demonstrates new capability for testing technologies

Atlas V booster lands at Vandenberg

Vega receives the LISA Pathfinder payload for its December 2 flight

NASA Orders SpaceX Crew Mission to International Space Station

IRON AND ICE
Retro Exo and Its Originators

How DSCOVR Could Help in Exoplanet Hunting

Forming planet observed for first time

UA researchers capture first photo of planet in making

IRON AND ICE
SSL selected to provide new high throughput satellite to Telesat

Satellite Spectrum Is Central To Future Vision For Global Connectivity

Virtual reality app brings crisis zones closer to home

Plant defense as a biotech tool




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement