Congress Legalizes Asteroid Mining

November 14th, 2015 by

Have you ever wanted to travel to outer space? This possibility continually seems nearer and nearer in the future, and is becoming less confined to the realm of science-fiction. If you did take a trip to space for more than recreational purposes (like a vacation), would you be interested in entrepreneurial opportunities? How about asteroid mining?

The U.S. Congress certainly thinks you—or other large commercials interest—might be. That’s why it passed House Resolution 2262, the SPACE Act of 2015. The legislation passed unanimously.

Protecting Space Racers

nasaThe absence of any laws on the books regarding how the potential commercialization of space (namely, the status of asteroid mining and who has the right to do it) left doubt about whether or not private companies would see any benefit in moving forward with plans to launch space ventures. By many accounts, the first forays into mining asteroids for their abundant resources could be as little as a decade away.

Under the terms of the UN’s own “space treaty,” which bars states from claiming any celestial body, there were no provisions for how private companies could make use of outer space’s bounties.

The SPACE Act is a huge win for asteroid mining hopefuls like Planetary Resources because it lays out a framework for how disputes over mineral extraction in space will be resolved. In addition to asteroid mining, it governs how different ventures might safely land on a space rock being mined by another company. It also officially allows for minerals and resources mined in space to be sold back on planet Earth.

Possible Benefits of Asteroid Mining

According to Mining.com, many asteroids could be carrying tons of scarce minerals worth trillions of dollars, potentially revolutionizing how we mine resources in the (albeit distant) future. Asteroid mining could potentially revolutionize how we acquire valuable raw materials altogether.

The law “extends indemnification [protection from liability] of commercial [space] launches through 2025” and also extends the operation life of the International Space Station through at least 2024.

By setting out these parameters, the SPACE Act is a step toward realizing the long-time dream to conquer the “final frontier” of outer space. Even if the United States and other developed nations are still a considerable ways off from engaging in asteroid mining in any substantive way, it is a big step for our lawmakers to agree on a framework for how private entities may begin this process and avoid claim disputes.

 

The opinions and forecasts herein are provided solely for informational purposes, and should not be used or construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell any product.