Congress Passes a Bill that Legalizes Space Mining

Thursday, 12 November 2015 - 12:34PM
Science News
Thursday, 12 November 2015 - 12:34PM
Congress Passes a Bill that Legalizes Space Mining
Space exploration is making strides every day, so naturally, we're already thinking about mining outer space for resources. The FAA recently took steps to encourage commercial endeavors on the moon, and now, Congress has passed a bipartisan bill that officially legalizes the mining of extraterrestrial bodies, such as asteroids and other planets.

The bill, dubbed the US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, encourages private sector investment in space exploration by insuring commercial space launches up to 2025, establishing the legal right for U.S. citizens to own resources in space, extending the ISS's flight until 2024, and extending the "learning period" of space tourism companies, during which time paying customers fly at their own risk and the FAA is unable to step in unless there is a major accident. 

Opening quote
"This bill provides the boost America's private space partners need as they lead the world into the future," said Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican who chairs the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. "This bill will keep America at the forefront of aerospace technology, create jobs, reduce red tape, promote safety, and inspire the next generation of explorers."
Closing quote

The bill gives corporations free rein to explore space for profit, particularly by allowing them to own the resources they recover in outer space. Essentially, if companies can reach these outer space locations and obtain the resources, it's all fair game. Space mining advocates, particularly commercial ventures like asteroid mining company Planetary Resources, applauded Congress's actions:

Opening quote
"Many years from now, we will view this pivotal moment in time as a major step toward humanity becoming a multi-planetary species," Planetary Resources co-founder and co-chairman Eric Anderson said in a statement. "This legislation establishes the same supportive framework that created the great economies of history, and it will foster the sustained development of space."
Closing quote


Opening quote
"It is good for the country, and it is good for all mankind," said Rick Tumlinson, Chair of Deep Space Industries, in a statement. "We encourage other nations to support similar legislation, enabling the space resource utilization industry to build a robust space economy and a better future for all citizens of the world."
Closing quote

It seems like a bit of a slippery slope to allow anyone to mine other planets for resources without much regulation; it's questionable whether we have the right to these resources, especially if we ever find planets with living species and their own ecosystems we could potentially throw off-balance. But that being said, giving corporations incentives to invest capital in space exploration is a huge step towards technological advancement, scientific discovery, and possible colonization.
Science
Space
Science News

Load Comments