We’ve written a few times before about what we consider to be misguided treaties and bureaucratic actions designed to prevent entrepreneurial activity in space — for example, How Not To Enter the Space Age, where we grumbled about lunacy (sort of a pun) like the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. According to Wikipedia:
The treaty explicitly forbids any government from claiming a celestial resource such as the Moon or a planet, claiming that they are the common heritage of mankind.
It was signed by the United States. We said:
Isn’t that sweet? [It] means that no one owns anything. It means no private company will ever develop the resources that are out there. Government clerks might talk about it, but no one in his right mind thinks they could ever accomplish anything.
This is all nonsense. If the wealth that is probably out there is going to be discovered, mined, and brought to Earth where it’s needed and will benefit everyone, all of those “experts” need to get out of the way.
Today we have some very surprising news. Congress has just passed the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act. To our astonishment, it’s reported that Obama has signed it. We can’t find anything about this at the White House website or the major newspapers, but we did spot this: Mining Bill Signed by President Barack Obama, which says:
The U.S. commercial space industry is celebrating today. President Obama just signed new legislation that allows resources on Mars, the Moon, asteroids and bodies in space to be extracted, used as well as sold for commercial utilization and exploration. Some space experts believe this marks the dawn of new age in space, but that remains to be seen.
The Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act for 2015 or HR 2262, the Act permits companies that specialize in asteroid mining to keep all resources collected.
The new legislation permits U.S. citizens to own minerals extracted on the Moon and asteroids, but not own the land where they can be found. The implication with regard to property rights in space as stirred a great deal of attentions amongst lawmakers and entrepreneurs.
This new law may, however, be in conflict with earlier treaties, and that has to be clarified before anyone risks the enormous funds required to do any exploration and mining. Until then, nothing of economic importance will happen.
When news of this filters out, there will almost certainly be vigorous debate about the wisdom of this new law. The dreamy “space is for everyone!” gang will be wildly opposed to the new law. We think the new law is great, and as we said, we’re amazed that Obama signed it. We’ll be watching for future developments.
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