Sparks Fly in House Science Committee Over Asteroid Property Rights Bill

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)

In a contentious hearing on Wednesday, the Republican controlled House Science Committee approved a measure that would give companies rights to materials they mine from asteroids over complaints from Democrats that the measure was unconstitutional and drawn up to benefit a single company.

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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.

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A Video Primer on Outer Space Property Rights

Video Caption: A 1967 United Nations treaty states that outer space isn’t up for grabs.This hasn’t stopped at least one entrepreneur from selling land on our closest celestial neighbors. Scientific American editor Clara Moskowitz explains.

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SSI Space Manufacturing Conference: International, Legal and Economic Issues

International, Legal and Economic Considerations
Chairman: Brad Blair

“Mining Law and Property Rights for Outer Space”
Wayne White, Oceaneering Space Systems

“Economic Incentives and Tax Credits for Space Resource Development”
Eva Jane Lark, BMO Nesbitt Burns

“The ILO as Property Rights Agent”
Steve Durst, International Lunar Observatory Association and Space Age Publishing Company

“3D Metal Printing in Space: Enabling New Markets and Accelerating the Growth of Orbital Infrastructure”
Jason Dunn, Aaron Kemmer, Michael Chen, David Hutchinson and Brad Blair — Made in Space
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Lunar Property Rights – The Next Big Legal Food Fight

Who Owns the Moon?
Leonard David
Space.com

“Nearly 40 years after the U.S. flag was planted on the moon, a global rush to the final frontier has some pondering property rights out there.

“India, Japan and China are now circling the moon with their respective spacecraft – to be joined next year by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Then there’s the Google Lunar X Prize, a $30 million competition for the first privately funded team to send a robot to the moon, travel some 1,640 feet (500 meters) and transmit video, images and data back to Earth. The legal profession sees a brief in the making.”

Parabolas: Space Property Rights, Rails to Space, and New Mexico Moves Forward

The Boston Globe’s Drake Bennett takes a look at lunar property rights and other space settlement issues in a story titled, “My space: If we really want to explore space, maybe we should sell it off to the highest bidders.”

“To get an idea of what the flight into space will really be like, you have to extrapolate from the experience of riding on one of Beardie’s Virgin trains. They’ll have closed the buffet before you even arrive in space and then the craft will be kept in a holding stack for four hours before you can land, during which time the air-conditioning will be switched off and the air will smell like the steam from a pressure cooker full of cabbage. Then, when you write to Branson at Necker Island to complain, you’ll get an automated reply from the customer services department in Slough.”

Speaking of which, New Mexico officials are pushing ahead with plans to build Spaceport America, where  Virgin Galactic is set to become an anchor tenant. Next up: a public vote in Otera County on a tax increase to support construction. The Alamogordo Daily News has the latest. The Las Cruces Sun-News also has an update here.

Property bust? Lunar land prices are rocketing

Can the price of lunar land be a good indicator of housing prices in the United States? Possibly, according to a UBS analysis. However, is buying land on the moon even legal?

The Reuters News agency has a story here.