Bill to establish property rights and celestial mining signed into law.
President Obama signed into a law a measure that supports the rights of companies to mine resources on the moon, Mars and other heavenly bodies for profit, according to an article on geekwire.com.
The law, known as the United States Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, seeks to establish the infrastructure needed to allow commercial miners to keep and sell the resources they collect from asteroids and planets. The industry is expected to become a trillions of dollars per year endeavor in the future.
The law also addressed some current issues as well, as it extended the current “learning period” for regulation of space ventures by the private sector through 2023, indemnifies commercial space launches through 2025, and confirmed the International Space Station (ISS) should stay in operation until at least 2024.
However, the legislation’s space property rights provisions are getting the most attention.
Texas House Republican Lamar Smith said the natural resources of Earth and outer space have potential to facilitate and support human endeavors, and that commercial space firms are developing technical capabilities and making significant investments to explore and use those resources. Smith, who chairs the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, added the bill will establish the industry of collecting and using space resources.
Several companies are already developing the technology to extract minerals from celestial objects, and one, Planet Resources, is testing spacecraft prototypes to use in the endeavor.
Another company, Deep Space Industries, issued a statement in which the chairman Rick Tumlinson said humanity will look back on this bill as one of the hallmarks of the opening of space and will be remembered as the time the people of Earth began to unlock the wealth of the solar system.
The bill was necessary because of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 that forbade claiming sovereignty of celestial bodies, and gives a legal right to any resource a US citizen may collect in space, in accordance with current US law and international obligations.
President Obama has 180 days in which to present an outline of the procedures the government will use in regard to space property rights.