Joseph P. Farrell Ph.D
January 18, 2016
Ms. K.M. shared this article, and it’s an important one to pass along because it’s bringing to the attention of the mainstream the problems inherent with the increasing commercialization of space: how will competing international claims to mining rights on celestial bodies be ajudicated? Here’s the brief article she shared from Wired magazine:
At the heart of the issue is, once again, American unipolarism versus other nations:
The big wrinkle may not be whether it’s legal to mine an asteroid but how to figure out who has permission and who owns what claims. The US has no agency or process to issue licenses for space mining. “The politics can’t be known, but there will be politics,” says Joanne Gabrynowicz, a spacelaw expert at the University of Mississippi. Licenses give clarity not only to would-be miners but also to investors and governments starting their own operations. “If you don’t have that license, the investors are taking a big chance,” she says.
The US is now drawing up a law. Problem is, it’s unilateral and incomplete. The Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015 says citizens can “possess, own, transport, use, and sell” an asteroid resource once they obtain it. But the bill doesn’t establish an agency or process for issuing licenses. Worse, it says your ownership claim begins as soon as you detect the existence of metals on an asteroid. You don’t even have to plant a flag. But what if China and Russia have different ideas—and different laws for their own citizens? Commercial activity in distant space could easily cause seething international strife here on our home planet.(Emphasis added)
That’s it in a nutshell, and we’ve pointed this out numerous times on this website, as have many others who have been following this story.
And this is precisely where the high octane speculation, or rather, speculations, of the day begin.
We can expect that what is really being orchestrated by the American Congress contemplating and passing the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (2015) is really the “enunciation of a position,” the declaration of principles that the USA will and must inevitably bring to any comprehensive treaty arrangements it will negotiate in the future with other space-faring or potentially space-faring nations. And rest assured, such renegotiation is not a prediction; it is an absolute necessity, if for no other reason than to avoid the potential for conflict to arise because of misunderstandings in space.