Does Asteroid Mining Violate Space Law?
2012 04 25
By Natalie Wolchover | Space.com
Several well-known billionaires are forming the new company Planetary Resources with plans to send a robotic spacecraft to mine precious metals from an asteroid and bring them back to Earth. Google executives Larry Page and Eric Schmidt and their business partners say the enterprise will "add trillions to the global GDP."
But to whom do those trillions belong — the company, or everyone? Does a private company have a right to stake claim to an asteroid, or are celestial bodies such as the moon, planets and asteroids the communal property of all Earthlings?
"The law on this is not settled and not clear," said Henry Hertzfeld, professor of space policy and international affairs at George Washington University. "There are lots of opinions on the status here, and nobody is necessarily right because it’s complicated."
The legal ambiguity hasn’t needed to be addressed before, Hertzfeld said, because no company has previously come forward with a serious asteroid mining mission plan and the funds to back it. When the debate over space property rights is forced to ensue, old international wounds will likely be reopened.
Robotic probes will prospect near-Earth asteroids, seeking water and platinum-group metals. Image: Source
Video from: YouTube.com
The most pertinent piece of law is the Outer Space Treaty (OST), an agreement signed or ratified by all spacefaring nations in 1967, which established, among other things, that no nation may claim sovereignty over space, the moon or celestial bodies. The treaty was intended to protect the rights of lesser developed nations that did not yet have the ability to explore space, and to prevent the U.S. or the Soviet Union — whichever would go on to win the space race — from claiming sovereignty over the moon. However, the question of space resource exploitation is not explicitly addressed in the treaty, and interpretations of its words vary widely.
Art Dula, a space law professor at the University of Houston, believes private companies absolutely have the right to mine an asteroid. "The 1967 Outer Space Treaty specifically permits the ’use’ of outer space by nongovernmental entities. There is no suggestion in the treaty that commercial or business use would be prohibited," Dula told Life’s Little Mysteries. In his opinion, the treaty and a subsequent United Nations resolution established that national governments themselves are responsible for regulating the use of outer space of citizens and companies within their borders.
Thus, because the billionaires are American and forming their company in the United States, the U.S. government is charged with giving the go-ahead to the billionaires’ bold new project, he said, and the Constitution ensures it will do so. The 10th Amendment — which states that all powers not delegated to the federal government, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states or to the people — means that the right to mine an asteroid belongs to the people."I am pleased to say that the American people and the corporations they form are presently free to conduct mining operations in outer space for commercial purposes, as this activity has not been made either illegal or regulated by the federal government or the several states," Dula said.
Not everyone agrees. Frank Lyall, public law professor at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, and director of the International Institute of Space Law, and Paul Larsen, a space law expert and adjunct professor at Georgetown Law School, both interpret the OST as meaning that no one — neither a government, nor a person — can claim title to an asteroid, or the precious metals therein.
The point is proven by a 2001 court case, they said. In 2000, an American man named Gregory Nemitz registered a claim to the asteroid Eros. When NASA sent a satellite to investigate this asteroid soon after, Nemitz sent a letter to NASA telling the space agency to pay parking fees for landing the satellite on his property. "NASA declined and so did the U.S. Dept. of State," Larsen explained in an email. "The reason is that the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, Article II, specifically states ’outer space ... is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereign, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.’"
Thus, as the international law on the matter now stands, "an asteroid in outer space cannot be mined for the purpose of appropriation," Lyall wrote. "All the states whose nationals might mine are part of the 1967 [Outer Space] Treaty agreement and hence their national systems cannot provide the base of a title to the property."
With such polar opposite interpretations of the existing space law in play, another international agreement may be needed to address the question of space resource exploitation more directly — especially if or when the "Planetary Resources" enterprise becomes a reality. Many issues need to be settled, Hertzfeld said. "For example, how will they do it? How much insurance do they need? Are they allowed to leave junk behind on the asteroid? What would flooding the market with something that is rare on Earth do to the market? (The mined material might not get the market price they think it would because the price theoretically would go down.) So, there are so many issues needing to be addressed."
Nonetheless, in Hertzfeld’s opinion, the property rights of corporations will probably ultimately trump the idealistic notion that space is the common property of humankind. "The bottom line is if someone wants to risk the money, take the time, thinks they have a business case, it is probably possible to do it," he said.
Read the full article at: space.com
NASA moon bombing violates space law & may cause conflict with lunar ET/UFO civilizations
"The Moon. Space. Who owns them? Can we use the laws of, earth, and apply them to space? If so which ones? What are the ethical implications of space law?"
Video from: YouTube.com
"Who owns and regulates space, and why are space laws necessary? via the European Space Agency"
Video from: YouTube.com
Also tune into:
Alfred Webre - Exopolitics, NASA Bombing of the Moon, Outer Space Treaty & E.T.
Alfred Webre - Mars and Moon Bases, Time Travel, Teleportation, Aliens & Genetic Alteration
Richard Dolan - The Secret Space Program & Breakaway Civilization
Mike Bara - Dark Mission, The Occult NASA Moon Mission
Alan Watt - Moon Landing, UFO’s & Fake Alien Threat
Joseph P Farrell - Cosmic War, Interplanetary Warfare & Mesopotamian Mythology
David Hatcher Childress - Technology of the Gods & Ancient Atomic Warfare
Ralph Ring & Marsha Brown - OTC-X1 Flying Saucer Components & Natural Law
Jim Gardner - The Intelligent Universe, Bio-Cosm, ET, AI and Evolution
Richard C. Hoagland - The Secret Space Program & The Fukushima Nuclear Reactor Disaster
Timothy Good - Secret Space Program, UFOs, ET & Coverup
Billionaires should be allowed to BUY up planets and rip up an out-of-date space treaty, claims expert
Carol Rosin IUFOC 2011 - International Space Treaty (Video)
How Stanley Kubrick Faked the Apollo Moon Landings
It’s Official: Water Found on the Moon
Subterranean Living May Await Moon And Mars Colonists
Last Year’s LCROSS Moonshot Splashed Up "Lots Of Water"
Moon Oddly Magnetic—Giant Asteroid Crash to Blame?
Billionaires Say They Will Save Humanity by Mining Asteroids (Now We’re Saved!)
Blast it or paint it: Asteroid to threaten Earth in 2013
Scientists stunned by surface of massive asteroid
National Energy Policy: The Cheney Law Massacre
Secret Space Program: Peter Levenda (April 2011)
Space Exploration Part 2: Mining the sky
Moon Mining and Secret Government
Latest News from our Front Page
Logo of New NRO Spy Satellite: An Octopus Engulfing the World with the Words “Nothing is Beyond Our Reach” Underneath
2013 12 09
On December 5th, The National Reconnaissance Office launched a new spy satellite called NROL-39 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Its logo features a giant octopus engulfing the world with the ominous words “Nothing is Beyond our Reach” underneath. Is there a better way to portray a nightmarish, big-brotherish totalitarian government? No. In fact, this exact imagery was used ...
DARPA’s mirror-killing membrane could change astronomy, allow total global surveillance
2013 12 06
When it launches in 2018, the James Webb Space Telescope will let us see deeper into the universe than ever before. Its enormous eye is centered around 18 octagonal mirrors which assemble to form the largest telescope mirror ever built, but someday even the James Webb Telescope (formerly the Next-Gen Space Telescope) will outlive its usefulness — and then what ...
The Nightwatchman: Crime-predicting robot aims to patrol our streets and schools
2013 12 06
Get Ready. They’ll be watching.
These new robots that are an unnerving mix between Star Wars’ R2-D2 and Doctor Who’s Daleks, are being touted as the new way to "monitor, map, and secure" the humans around them.
The robots are purported to replace security guards and watchmen, in a bid to reduce labor costs and streamline surveillance.
A company in California ...
Microsoft’s Smart Bra Will Monitor Mood & Reduce Overeating
2013 12 06
Microsoft is designing a “smart bra” that will monitor women’s health by tracking their heart rate, her emotional state, whether or not she is over-eating and more.
Sensors in the bra detect when the wearer is bored, stressed or discouraged and send a warning signal to the woman’s smartphone that she should caution from making bad food choices.
In a paper entitled, ...
“Saint” Mandela? Not So Fast!
2013 12 06
President Barack Obama has compared him to George Washington. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews heralded him as “perhaps the world’s greatest hero.”
The Las Vegas Guardian Express dispensed with the “perhaps,” declaring in headline: “Nelson Mandela World’s Greatest Hero.”
Others have christened him “the greatest man of the 20th century.” Many revere him as “the savior” of South Africa. School children worldwide read books, ...
|More News » |