U.S. Congress Adopts Space Mining Bill

World | November 19, 2015, Thursday // 12:58|  views

The United States Congress has adopted a new law which allows businesses and industries to extract natural resources from celestial bodies.

The legislation "lets entreprenauts keep whatever nonliving souvenirs they find out in the void, opening the door to everything from asteroid-based gold mines to comet-collected rocket fuel," according to an article published by Wired magazine.

The U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act also "protects private spaceflight from regulatory oversight, giving the industry up to 8 years to get its innovations in place before government overseers step in."

The idea is to give businesses time and opportunity to speed up project development and to find new partners. After the end of the eight-year period, the government will step in with a full package of regulations, which are yet to be created.

However, the new legislation, adopted by both congressional houses on November 17, is controversial, the article reads.

For example, it is unclear what will happen if two companies or two countries are interested in the natural resources of one and the same celestial body.

Another controversy is that according to international space treaties governments cannot lay claim to celestial bodies but private individuals could keep the stuff they find on them.

Because the private companies of space entrepreneurs are regulated under U.S. law, the new legislation "could be interpreted as saying that these celestial bodies are US property."

To enter into force, the new legislation needs to be signed by President Barack Obama, what he is likely to do, according to the article. 

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Tags: U.S., space, mining, Act, bill, natural resources, regulatory oversight


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