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Space United States Politics

Asteroid Mining Bill Introduced In Congress To Protect Private Property Rights 181

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can't-take-the-sky-from-me dept.
MarkWhittington writes: "Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) announced on Thursday that he was introducing a bill along with Rep, Derek Kilmer (D-WA) called the American Space Technology for Exploring Resource Opportunities in Deep Space (ASTEROIDS) Act of 2014 (PDF). The act is designed to protect the private property rights for entities mining asteroids and to otherwise encourage asteroid mining. The bill is in apparent reaction to efforts by companies like Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries to locate and mine Earth approaching asteroids for their resources.

The crucial part of the short piece of legislation states that the resources mined from an asteroid would be the property of the entity undertaking the operation. This language gets around the provision of the Outer Space Treaty that says states are forbidden to establish national sovereignty over celestial bodies, which would be a prerequisite to the United States allowing a private entity to own an asteroid. It rather grants mineral rights to the asteroid, something the treaty does not mention. There is no enforcement mechanism in the event of a dispute with another country, however."
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Asteroid Mining Bill Introduced In Congress To Protect Private Property Rights

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  • Absurd (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 11, 2014 @07:54AM (#47430471)

    How can any nation grant right over something outside its sovereignty?

  • Good. Let's go. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday July 11, 2014 @08:03AM (#47430505) Homepage Journal

    Asteroid mining is the only way we're going to build large structures in space anytime "soon". There's plenty of asteroids, this issue can be revisited later.

  • Re:Sure there is (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 11, 2014 @08:51AM (#47430777)
    It may be already profitable in near future if the point of the stuff is to stay in space. Once we start needing large amounts of structural materials beyond Earth's gravity well, lifting them from Earth is not going to be cheap.
  • a couple of points (Score:4, Interesting)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Friday July 11, 2014 @09:33AM (#47431105) Journal

    1) First, the silliness with bill names really needs to stop; one imagines a giglling kindergartner sitting "playing" Congressman typing out stupid acronyms while lobbyists sit in the background actually crafting the legislative language.

    2) Then again, there are so many vagaries in the language of this bill, it's almost comical that it would be presented as legislation.
    First, the bill keeps referring to "asteroids in outer space" - WTF is "outer space" precisely? Anything ex-atmospheric? Above the Karman Line? Anything in orbit? Anything outside lunar orbit?
    Second, I believe even astronomers are having Platonic debates over the precise meanings of such terms as 'asteroid', 'planetoid', and 'moon'. Heck, in wiki's intro to "asteroid", the bulk of the opening paragraph sort of dissolves asymptotically trying to grab specifics. This document constantly references asteroids without bothering even to define what they're talking about. It might include Ceres or Vesta, but could it include the Moon? How about Phobos? Pluto?

    Of course, most people have comfortable working definitions of the above, insofar as they care. But when the first rover starts drilling into the Moon, or Mars, or heck, taps into an agglomeration of someone else's space junk asserting it's "space debris that's formed an asteroid" these sorts of vagaries cause massive legal issues.

    More evidence - as if the US public needed it - that our congressvermin are just idiots.

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake

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