The legal status and ownership of resources harvested from space are unclear. How does such uncertainty affect our plans to exploit them?
The near-Earth asteroid, Eros.
There’s quite a buzz in space policy circles over the recent announcement of the creation of a new company that intends to survey, study and mine near Earth asteroids (NEAs). Given my previous advocacy regarding the desirability of learning how to extract and use off-planet resources, many people have asked me to weigh in with my opinion of their proposed business plan. I’d like to frame my remarks around Michael Listner’s recent piece on the possible legal issues involved in the plan as he has illuminated an interesting angle on the project.
The roll-out of the business plan of Planetary Resources Inc. made a big media splash, as is typical for many of these “New Space” private operations. Close examination reveals the outline of a plan, but the technical details are rather fuzzy. Given that no business should reveal too much detail about their plans lest they lose their competitive advantage, the company’s reticence is not too surprising. To summarize it in broad terms, the plan is to launch a space-based telescope, dedicated to ...