Asteroid Property Rights Legislation Introduced in Congress

Welcome WRANGLER, a NIAC-funded idea to capture and de-spin asteroids and space debris. (Credit: Robert Hoyt/Tethers Unlimited)
Welcome WRANGLER, a NIAC-funded idea to capture and de-spin asteroids and space debris. (Credit: Robert Hoyt/Tethers Unlimited)

Legislation that would grant property rights to entities mining asteroids has been introduced in Congress.

“Any asteroid resources obtained in outer space are the property of the entity that obtained such resources, which shall be entitled to all property rights thereto, consistent with applicable provisions of Federal law,” the measure states.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) has introduced the Space Resource Exploration and Utilization Act of 2015 with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) as co-sponsor. Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) has introduced an identical measure in the House with Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) as co-sponsor.

Washington State is home to Planetary Resources, one of two American asteroid mining companies. The other company is Deep Space Industries, which is located in California.

The legislation would require the President to submit to Congress within 180 days a report containing “recommendations for (1) the allocation of responsibilities relating to the exploration and utilization of space resources among Federal agencies; and (2) any authorities necessary to meet the international obligations of the United States with respect to the exploration and utilization of space resources.”

The act would also require the President to facility the commercial exploration and utilization of space, discourage government barriers to these activities consistent with international obligations, and promote the right of U.S. companies to utilize and sell asteroid resources free of harmful interference.

The measure would provide companies with the ability to seek civil relief in court if their activities are interfered with by other entities. Companies would be required to  “avoid causing harmful interference in outer space.”