Resolving Conflicts Of Space Resource Commercial Exploration And Utilization With The Outer Space Treaty Of 1967
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Resolving Conflicts in Space Resource Commercial Exploration and Utilization with The Outer Space Treaty of 1967
Author: Erin L. Williamson
As technology progresses, so too does humanity’s reach. November of 2015 saw a new Act signed into law that promotes commercial activity in space. The activities of acquisition and use of asteroid and space resources must be in compliance with the Outer Space Treaty. This paper reviews the new Act and identifies three areas where the Act may be in conflict with the Treaty: threatening scientific investigation in outer space, appropriating space resources, and introducing potential harmful biological contamination. Here, the reasons for their conflict are described and possible resolution are…show more content… citizens (U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, 2015).
The Act is a boon to Planetary Resources, which is one of only two companies known to be actively developing technologies to mine near-Earth asteroids for their water, hydrocarbons, and precious metals. Planetary Resources (n.d) states on its website that it intends to deliver these resources back to Earth. However, Deep Space Industries, Inc., (2016) the other asteroid mining company, alternatively proposes to keep the resources in situ to spur human expansion into the solar system. The mining technologies and resources left in situ will likely encourage other space companies like SpaceX to strengthen their pursuit of exploration or colonization missions to Mars.
While these companies, buoyed now by additional support from the U.S. federal government, enthusiastically pursue a space-age “gold rush”, little concern appears to be given to their significance in regard to the 1967 Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies. This treaty is colloquially referred to as the Outer Space Treaty. There are multiple points of potential conflict with this important document, which has been signed by 104 countries, in the practices of the nascent commercial space industry of the United States. These conflicts include: threatening scientific investigation in outer space,