Moon Mining And Space Lawyers

If you can get to the moon, can you mine its water legally? At least one legal expert thinks you'd be on shaky ground:

The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 seems to permit extractive activities on the moon and other celestial bodies, according to space-law experts. But it's not entirely clear that mining companies would own the stuff that they extract. That fuzziness could be a problem for outfits contemplating a moon mining endeavor, which could have initial costs running into the tens of billions of dollars.

"As far as title goes, it's a gray area," international lawyer and space-law expert Timothy Nelson, who works for the firm Skadden in New York City, told SPACE.com. "And from a risk perspective, lack of clarity means it doesn't exist."

On the other hand, it is possible that the Moon Treaty of 1979 would allow it:

"Experienced space lawyers interpret the treaty to allow mining," space-law expert Wayne White, who works in the aerospace industry, told SPACE.com. "I have never seen anybody argue that you couldn't use mineral resources."

White and Nelson both referenced the Moon Treaty of 1979, which sought to set up a regime governing how the moon's resources would be used. The Moon Treaty remains more or less irrelevant today; it has been ratified by just a handful of nations, none of them big players in spaceflight and space exploration.

"If the Moon Treaty wants to regulate how we use natural resources in outer space, then that presumes that it's legal to do so under the Outer Space Treaty," White said.

Science fiction writers have been thinking about these issues for a long time. In his excellent 1941 story Jurisdiction, sf golden era great Nat Schachner writes about a space billionaire, his feisty daughter and a young space lawyer who gets the better of both of them. In the story, there was a discussion of asteroid claim law.

The mining of lunar ice was discussed thoroughly by Robert Heinlein in his 1966 novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress:

One shy little fellow with bloodshot eyes of old-time drillman stood up. "I'm an ice miner," he said. "Learned by trade doing time for Warden like most of you. I've been on my own thirty years and done okay... I should say did do okay... because today you have to listen farther out or deeper down to find ice. "That's okay, still ice in The Rock and a miner expects to sound for it..."
(Read more about fictional lunar ice mining)

Heinlein's use of this idea in a story was preceded by Caltech research scientists Kenneth Watson, Bruce C. Murray, and Harrison Brown in 1961..

From Space.com via Atomic Rockets.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/18/2011)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

Is There Life In Outer Space? Will We Recognize It?
'The antennae of the Life Detector atop the OP swept back and forth...' - Frank Herbert, 1958.

Space Traumapod For Surgery In Spacecraft
' It was a ... coffin, form-fitted to Nessus himself...' - Larry Niven, 1972.

A Space Ship On My Back
''Darn clever, these suits,' he murmured.' - Jack Williamson, 1933.

Elon Musk Tweets Versions Of Clarke's Operation Cleanup
'Fortunately, the old orbital forts were superbly equipped for this task.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1978.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Ontario Starts Guaranteed Minimum Income
'Earned by just being born.'

Is There Life In Outer Space? Will We Recognize It?
'The antennae of the Life Detector atop the OP swept back and forth...'

Space Traumapod For Surgery In Spacecraft
' It was a ... coffin, form-fitted to Nessus himself...'

Tesla Augmented Reality Hypercard
'The hypercard is an avatar of sorts.'

A Space Ship On My Back
''Darn clever, these suits,' he murmured.'

Biomind AI Doctor Mops Floor With Human Doctors
'My aim was just not to lose by too much.' - Human Physician participant.

Fuli Bad Dog Robot Is 'Auspicious Raccoon Dog' Bot
Bad dog, Fuli. Bad dog.

Las Vegas Humans Ready To Strike Over Robots
'A worker replaced by a nubot... had to be compensated.'

You'll Regrow That Limb, One Day
'... forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to regrow his lost fingers.'

Elon Musk Seeks To Create 1941 Heinlein Speedster
'The car surged and lifted, clearing its top by a negligible margin.'

Somnox Sleep Robot - Your Sleepytime Cuddlebot
Science fiction authors are serious about sleep, too.

Real-Life Macau or Ghost In The Shell
Art imitates life imitates art.

Has Climate Change Already Been Solved By Aliens?
'I had explained," said Nessus, "that our civilisation was dying in its own waste heat.'

First 3D Printed Human Corneas From Stem Cells
Just what we need! Lots of spare parts.

VirtualHome: Teaching Robots To Do Chores Around The House
'Just what did I want Flexible Frank to do? - any work a human being does around a house.'

Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) Workshop
SF writers have thought about this since the 19th century.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.