Earlier this month, the United States Senate approved the SPACE Act of 2015. The bill was passed with unanimous approval and contains a few amendments, so it must go back to the House of Representatives for consideration.
The Senate version of the bill is expected to get approval from the House without incident. After that, it goes to the desk of President Obama for signature.
Passage of the SPACE Act of 2015 comes with controversy. Opponents of the bill suggest legalizing mining of bodies in space is in contravention of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. This treaty set a legal framework for space law. It prevents states that are party to the treaty from placing weapons of mass destruction in Earth’s orbit, or on the moon or any other body in space. The Outer Space Treaty further demilitarizes the moon completely. The treaty also states the exploration of space shall be done for the benefit for all countries and shall be free for exploration and use by all States.
Opponents also say the SPACE Act of 2015 violates the Moon Agreement of 1979. Only 16 countries have ratified this treaty, and none of the countries with the capability for manned space flight have signed it, nor are party to it. Nonetheless, the Moon Treaty bans mining of celestial bodies by a single country as well as terraforming of celestial bodies and claiming sovereignty over celestial bodies.
The bill defines space resources to be non-biologic resource. Thus, alien slavery has been outlawed pursuant to United States law. Further, the law goes on to assign ownership of the resources gather from any asteroid resource or space resource to the individual or organization who obtained the resource in accordance with the SPACE Act of 2015.
Companies interested in exploiting resources in space cheered passage of the bill. Planetary Resources crafted a letter of praise quoting several executives from the company and law makers. Peter Diamandis, Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of Planetary Resources, said, “A hundred years from now, humanity will look at this period in time as the point in which we were able to establish a permanent foothold in space. In history, there has never been a more rapid rate progress than right now.”
What do you think of Space Mining? Is the SPACE Act of 2015 a good move forward, or a violation of international Agreements? Share your thoughts below!