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Government Space Science

The Great Meteor Grab 152

RocketAcademy writes "New regulations by the Federal government define asteroidal material to be an antiquity, like arrowheads and pottery, rather than a mineral — and, therefore, not subject to U.S. mining law or eligible for mining claims. At the moment, these regulations only apply to asteroidal materials that have fallen to Earth as meteorites. However, they create a precedent that could adversely affect the plans of companies such as Planetary Resources, who intend to mine asteroids in space."
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The Great Meteor Grab

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  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:12PM (#41635927)

    Talk about worrying about the wrong problems. Why worry about how this is regulated before anyone can even come close to doing it?

    First come up with a way to mine an asteroid, then you can worry about the legal semantics.

  • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:14PM (#41635949) Homepage Journal

    The well-funded asteroid-miners will be able to buy the politicians and get the rules changed before they launch and call it a cost of doing business.

    The not as well funded ones... well, it wouldn't be the first time lack of excess capital to pay lawyers or lobbyists stopped a project before it started.

    Besides, if only the US has this law, then companies will just launch under other nations' flags and sell the minerals to countries that don't have a problem with mining asteroids.

  • by Nebulo ( 29412 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:18PM (#41636017)

    The article makes a huge logical leap: that US laws governing items on federal lands somehow apply to items that are not on federal lands (for example, the asteroid belt). This is akin to saying that US antiquity laws would prevent a US citizen from prospecting for fossils in, say, Canada. What a load of baloney. The author is trying to conflate and confuse two issues (mining in space and prospecting on US federal lands) which are utterly unrelated.


  • by 0racle ( 667029 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:22PM (#41636095)
    I doubt it's a problem. An Asteroid is not a Meteorite.

    "A meteorite is a natural object originating in outer space that survives impact with the Earth's surface" - Wikipedia - Meteorite []

    So unless someone plans on mining an asteroid by slamming it into the planet, they probably don't have to deal with laws pertaining to meteorites. There is also the fact that US law does not extend to the Asteroid Belt.
  • by GodInHell ( 258915 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:26PM (#41636137) Homepage
    The attached articles are talking about regulations for metorites found on the surface of federal land. Last time I checked (1) asteroids aren't metorites until they fall out of the sky[1]; (2) asteroids in space aren't found on the surface of federal lands; and (3) the U.S. Gov't has no jurisdiction out where thar be asteroids.

    Total fail.

    1. "A meteorite is a natural object originating in outer space that survives impact with the Earth's surface." Wiki source [].
  • by GodInHell ( 258915 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:29PM (#41636191) Homepage
    Specifically: the "precedent" here is actually very old that valuable minerals found on the unburdened (i.e. not covered in dirt) parts of land belong to the owner of that property. These regulations are just clarifying that /yes/ meteorites are valuable minerals - when found on the surface of federal lands they belong to the federal government and you can't just take them because you want to. Also, you cannot just go into public lands and take a fencepost because you think it'd make a nice addition to your yard.
  • by Sean ( 422 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @06:52PM (#41637345)

    That will be ignored as soon as the capability to occupy celestial bodies exists.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12, 2012 @07:46PM (#41637865)

    Yes, because corporate bodies never need to be regulated. They all behave like angels.

  • by deimtee ( 762122 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @09:32PM (#41638551) Journal
    The implication is in landing what you mined from the asteroid.
    Large scale metal mining and retrieval is likely to use very large, roughly formed, vaguely aerodynamic bodies with cheap re-entry shields. Basically, form the metal into a plane shape, whack a shield on the front and drop it in a desert. Scrap it for the metal in it. Any valuable metals you put in the centre, if the wingtips burn off a bit, so what. :)
    The problem comes when the thing misses your couple of square miles of desert, and the BLM says they now own your multimegabucks worth of rare metals.
  • Re:So what? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 13, 2012 @05:47AM (#41640259)

    A man could do in a day what curiosity does in a year. You watch too much sci-fi, in reality our robotic technology is not advanced at all.

"The following is not for the weak of heart or Fundamentalists." -- Dave Barry