Glenn Reynolds: Cashing in on the Final Frontier
By Glenn Harlan Reynolds
Nov. 30, 2015
On the one hand, it was probably legal for Americans to do this already: The 1967 Outer Space Treaty prohibits “national appropriation” of the moon and other “celestial bodies.” It says nothing about private property rights. Although there are some who argue otherwise, it seems pretty clear, as Hofstra law professor Julian Ku recently pointed out, that the Outer Space Treaty doesn’t prohibit private entities, or even governments, from exploiting space resources so long as they don’t claim sovereignty.
Did the U.S. Make Asteroid Mining Legal?
By Joe Palazzolo
The Wall Street Journal Law Blog
Dec. 1, 2015
The Outer Space Treaty of 1967, for instance, says signatories should avoid “harmful contamination” of the Moon and other celestial bodies, which are “not subject to national appropriation.” But the treaty is silent on private property rights.
Julian Ku, a professor of international law at Hofstra University, said the law’s focus on private rights avoids a collision with the international treaty.
“All it does is allow private US citizens to ‘possess, own, transport, use, and sell’ extraterrestrial resources without violating U.S. law,” he wrote at the legal blog Opinio Juris.
He went on,
On the other hand, it is also true that other spacefaring countries could allow their citizens to do the same. Indeed, I think their government space agencies could probably also do so, as long as they are not “claiming sovereignty.” Without an explicit international treaty regulating commercial space resource exploitation, it will ultimately be a question of each country’s domestic regulations. Can the U.S. live with that result?