Space – the final commercial frontier, says new US law

Posted: December 8, 2015 by oldbrew in government, innovation
Tags:

Lift-off [image credit: NASA]

Lift-off [image credit: NASA]


US businesses can now legally be space invaders, as Phys.org reports. They can boldly go looking for extra-terrestrial riches wherever they like.

Flashing some interplanetary gold bling and sipping “space water” might sound far-fetched, but both could soon be reality, thanks to a new US law that legalizes cosmic mining.

In a first, President Barack Obama signed legislation at the end of November that allows commercial extraction of minerals and other materials, including water, from asteroids and the moon.

That could kick off an extraterrestrial gold rush, backed by a private aeronautics industry that is growing quickly and cutting the price of commercial space flight.


The US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015 says that any materials American individuals or companies find on an asteroid or the moon is theirs to keep and do with as they please.

While the Space Act breaks with the concept that space should be shared by everyone on Earth for scientific research and exploration, it establishes the rights of investors to profit from their efforts, at least under US law.

Christopher Johnson, a lawyer at the Secure World Foundation, which focuses on the long-term sustainable use of outer space, said the law sets the basis for the next century of activity in space. “Now it is permissible to interact with space. Exploring and using space’s resources has begun,” he said.

The US move conjured visions of the great opening of the United States’ Western frontier in the 19th century, which led to the California Gold Rush of 1849. But for the moment, the costs of pioneering the economic exploitation of space remain exorbitant and the risks high.

Full report: New US space mining law to spark interplanetary gold rush

Comments
  1. A C Osborn says:

    They still don’t get it do they?
    The USA is not “the World” and cannot make decisions for it.

  2. oldbrew says:

    As General Forrest didn’t really say: “git thar fustest with the mostest.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathan_Bedford_Forrest#Forrest.27s_Military_Doctrines

    Possession is 9/10ths of the law – etc. The US military probably has plans somewhere on how to take charge of space😉

  3. Bloke down the pub says:

    National governments still control who can launch into space so a free for all is unlikely.

  4. michael hart says:

    “But for the moment, the costs of pioneering the economic exploitation of space remain exorbitant and the risks high.”

    Exorbitant cost? A bit like unreliables electricity generation, then.

  5. oldbrew says:

    ‘The US move conjured visions of the great opening of the United States’ Western frontier in the 19th century, which led to the California Gold Rush of 1849.’

    Except you didn’t need an expensive rocket and a space suit to get started in those days😐

  6. Graeme No.3 says:

    Just start a rumour that space rockets cause climate change and the rush will be stopped.

  7. p.g.sharrow says:

    It would appear that a better propulsion system would be needed before this would start a “gold rush”…pg

  8. oldbrew says:

    There are ‘about thirteen thousand near-Earth asteroids’.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near-Earth_object

  9. Bloke down the pub says:

    p.g.sharrow says:
    December 9, 2015 at 2:19 am
    It would appear that a better propulsion system would be needed before this would start a “gold rush”…pg

    This would probably count.
    http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/sabre.html

  10. p.g.sharrow says:

    @Bloke down the pub says:

    That Reactionengine looks to be well thought out for a orbital drive. But, still a reaction engine.
    I look more towards a Electrical drive as a real solution. The manipulation of mass/inertia is the best long term solution. Electrically getting a grip on Aether is more in line with my efforts…pg

  11. A C Osborn says:

    You do not need a “Drive” to get to orbit. Just a very long Mag Lev Line up a mountain, whereby the power stays on the Ground, other than a small one for maneuvering in space.

  12. tallbloke says:

    ACO, it’s going to be noisy…

    On the surface of the Earth, the escape velocity is about 11.2 kilometers per second (~6.96 mi/s), which is approximately 33 times the speed of sound (Mach 33) and several times the muzzle velocity of a rifle bullet (up to 1.7 km/s).

  13. p.g.sharrow says:

    @ACOsborn, I’m a fat old man! Don’t think I can withstand that kind of acceleration. Now, 1 “g”, acceleration would yield trans light speeds in 40 days. Out to the edge of the solar system and back for the weekend. That I could tolerate.😉 Well maybe a long weekend, might want to sight see along the way…pg

  14. A C Osborn says:

    Not for people, they can go via Virgin Atlantic and transfer in low orbit, it is for cargo.
    The reason for the mountain is to get the right trajectory and to get the Capsule out in Rarified air, which the capsule tube would be full of (ie near Vacuum) to cut down the air resistance.
    It can of course have a rocket motor as well but most of the lifting is done by the Mag Lev.
    This idea goes back about 40 or 50 years and would also be used for shipping stuff off the moon.

    I am convinced that once sufficient resources are out their they will be able to use the moon and asteroids to avoid the Earth’s Gravity Well for just about everything but people & food.

    Of course the ultimate is a Space Elevator and with the current work on Graphene & other “grown” materials we may be getting close to being able to build one.

    The problem of course of all of these is the “Will” to do it and the co-operation required between nations to work on it together, instead of them all doing their own thing as they are at the moment.

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