Obama signs bill that allows asteroid mining and recognizes property rights for resources extracted from heavenly bodies. The new law is known as the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015 and it will allow companies to extract resources from places like the Moon, Mars and asteroids and use these resources for commercial purposes.
This new decision changes the way space laws have operated this far and actually allows for resources extracted from outer space to be sold and used by companies that are collecting them. Eric Anderson, a representative of Planetary Resources, Inc. has explained that the new legislation supports the making of some supportive framework that will encourage a sustained development of space resources and that it is a similar model as those responsible for the creation of great world economies.
The new bill also covers other aspects of space exploration and exploitation such as the regulation period for spaceships developed in the private sector, which has been extended until 2023, and the reinforcement of the activity of the International Space Station which will continue to unfold until 2024 at least.
The bill is a great recognition of property rights according to Eric Anderson. Previously established legislation prohibited nations from claiming any ownership of the Moon or of other celestial bodies. The previous law was drafted in 1976 and is known as the Outer Space Treaty.
The new law that the president has signed off on will now permit citizens of the United States to own the minerals that they extract from bodies in outer space such as the Moon and asteroids, but it will not grant them ownership of the celestial bodies themselves. However the new developments have stirred up conversations between both lawmakers and entrepreneurs regarding property rights in space.
The decision comes at a time when commercial space companies are making major investments in the development of new technologies that will facilitate the exploration and harvesting of outer space resources according to the chair of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, representative Lamar Smith. The new law will clearly encourage the commercial space industry in the United States to expand and see growing investments.
A particularly thriving area of this industry will be asteroid mining, since companies will now be allowed to use and sell the resources they extract as they wish, according to space entrepreneurs. This wing of the commercial space industry has been estimated to grow into a yearly market worth trillions of dollars after the new law takes effect.
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