Space cowboys? International lawyers are trying to agree on what legislation will be needed to control the exploration of mineral resources in space to avoid a new ‘Wild West’. Credit: James Vaughan

Space cowboys? International lawyers are trying to agree on what legislation will be needed to control the exploration of mineral resources in space to avoid a new ‘Wild West’.
Credit: James Vaughan

There is a growing choir of experts calling for careful review of laws governing space exploration – specifically rules of the road to control the exploration of mineral resources in space to avoid a projected “Wild West.”

According to Olga Volynskaya, chief international law counsel of the Russian state commission for space activities:

“International law gives no answer to the most important issue in space commercialization,” explains Volynskaya writing in ROOM – the Space Journal. How best to balance public and commercial interests is on the table, observe experts, calling for better and clearer laws.

“It is alarming if the freedom of exploration and the use of outer space for peaceful purposes can be disregarded when it comes to national space operations,” Volynskaya states.

Space cowboys

As countries – and companies – begin to look to outer space for valuable resources, the idea of human colonies on the Moon, once the province of science fiction, is moving ever closer.

Our future in space “may not be a cloudless or a peaceful one” warns ROOM editor-in-chief, Igor Ashurbeyli.“The very nature of Homo Sapiens – or even that of Homo ‘gambliens’ – will not allow us to harness our ancient Earthly instincts. And we will live to see new space cowboys in lunar saloons and on space ranchos.”

Noted in a statement from the Journal, while outer space mining is a growing possibility, no one is quite sure whether it would be legal because international treaties governing commercial activity in space are out of date. At the same time, national governments, notably the United States, are developing legislation to pave the way for easier exploitation of space resources.

Experts gathered for 7th joint meeting of The Space Resources Roundtable (SRR) and the Planetary & Terrestrial Mining Sciences Symposium (PTMSS), held June 7-9 at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. Credit: Leonard David

Experts gathered for 7th joint meeting of The Space Resources Roundtable (SRR) and the Planetary & Terrestrial Mining Sciences Symposium (PTMSS), held June 7-9 at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado.
Credit: Leonard David

Extraterrestrial mining

These issues and others took center stage at the 7th joint meeting of The Space Resources Roundtable (SRR) and the Planetary & Terrestrial Mining Sciences Symposium (PTMSS), held June 7-9 at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado.

There is renewed interest in In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) activities for the Moon, Mars, and asteroids from space agencies around the globe, the international private sector, and academic institutions. Furthermore, there is recent legislation introduced for space-resource commercial exploitation – spurring increased discussion of the near- and long-term opportunities in this arena.

Market demand?

The meeting held earlier this month at the School of Mines was geared to promote a closer relationship between the space and mining sectors. The intent is to allow mining experts to network with space scientists and engineers, to share knowledge, and to foster collaboration.

For example, highlighted at the gathering:

  • How space transportation systems can utilize space resources
  • Market demand and utilization scenarios for space resources and their products
  • The relationship between government-funded exploration and private ventures in identifying and using space resources, and how to develop public-private partnerships
  • Property rights in space

 

Credit: Virginia Edition Publishing Company

Credit: Virginia Edition Publishing Company

Readable resources

For more information on these topics, go to:

http://www.csmspace.com/events/srr/

Also, take a look at the debate and discussion surrounding space exploration and exploitation issues, by going to:

www.room.eu.com

For your library, take a read of a study by the International Academy of Astronautics that details space mineral resources (SMR) to benefit humanity as an economic “game changer.”

The study — Space Mineral Resources: A Global Assessment of the Challenges and Opportunities — shows how important it is to create a sound legal environment for SMR exploration and mining from both national and international perspectives, according to Secretary General of the China Institute of Space Law, Zhang Zhenjun, who served as co-editor of the study along with noted U.S. space lawyer, Art Dula.

For more information on this seminal study, go to Virginia Edition Publishing Company:

http://www.heinleinbooks.com/#!product/prd15/4235157661/space-mineral-resources

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