Space

Legal Space Mining!

Property rights in space FTW!

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Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit writes in USA Today of a great victory for property rights that's literally out of this world:

Last week, of course, we heard about Jeff Bezos' company Blue Origin's successful launch and landing of a fully reusable spacecraft. But another thing happened last week that got less attention: President Obama signed landmark legislation,  the "U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015." That legislation does a number of things, but the most important part is this passage:

"A United States citizen engaged in commercial recovery of an asteroid resource or a space resource under this chapter shall be entitled to any asteroid resource or space resource obtained, including to possess, own, transport, use, and sell the asteroid resource or space resource obtained in accordance with applicable law, including the international obligations of the United States."

There are a lot of good reasons to celebrate this development (even if it may not actually have been necessary under existing law). Reynolds explains:

Now investors don't have to worry about whether they'll plow millions (or billions) into a space mining company only to be told later that it broke the law….The solar system abounds in energy and material wealth, and far and away the greatest part of it is somewhere other than Earth. Rather than staying here, and fighting over slices of what's left, humanity should expand outward, competing peacefully to expand instead of engaging in zero-sum squabbles. We've taken a big step in that direction in the past week.

Some asteroids are believed to contain as much as $20 trillion in minerals, so the land rush (space rush?) will happen at some point. Reynolds hypothesizes that making it easier to mine in space also will help avoid conflict on Earth while resurrecting some of the frontier spirit that made America great (and this time, without displacing native Americans).

Read the whole thing here.

This is as good a reason as any to post Chris Elliott's senses-shattering dramatic reading of Rocket Man:

For context, go here.

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    1. Yeah Man? About this that them thar scheme that them’s a-cookin’ up to capture a steroid and put it in a moon orbit and study it?

      http://news.yahoo.com/nasa-ast…..00415.html

      Yeah Man?

      The Feds want to spend $2.5 billion to catch a steroid!?!? They need to talk to Lance Armstrong and / or Barry Bonds and his / their black-market connections; I am QUITE sure that Lance (etc.) could arrange to score a steroid for FAR less than THAT!!!

  1. and this time, without displacing native Americans

    Think of the poor native Asteroidians!

    1. You may laugh, but the anti-humanity folks have been beating the “we can’t explore other worlds; we’ve done too much damage to this one” drum for years.

      1. Those asteroids are *pristine natural wonders* and *scientifically priceless*!

        1. right up until they slam into Earth.

          Mine Asteroids Out Of Existence: It’s For The Children.

      2. That’s sort of a good way to sort out the real nutters. A lot of environmentalists will say, if pressed, that the real point is for the comfort of humans on Earth. They may not get that their personal preferences about the environment might not be the best for some other people on Earth, but at least they get that it’s a human problem, not one of universal morality. The Earth will be fine in the long run.
        There are also those who see it as a purely moral issue. These are the people who call people a virus or cancer on the planet and dream about a population crash and a return to primitivism.
        It is only the latter group who will complain about mining outer space.

        If I were in charge, I’d wait a few more years to rule out any life on Mars, then start sending every kind of extremophile life I can find to Mars to see if something gets a foothold. Then maybe in hundreds or thousands of years it might start to be more like a place where people could live.

  2. You know who else…..

    nahh – I got nothin’.

    1. You know who else was interested in rockets?

      There, that wasn’t hard.

      1. “Gee, I coulda had a V-2!”

      2. Robert Goddard?

    2. Iron Sky comes to mind.

  3. We’re whalers on the moon
    we carry a harpoon
    but there ain’t no whales,
    so we tell tall tales
    and sing a whaling tune.

  4. My speculation:

    Years from now, history will know Obama as the President who signed the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015.

    In fact, thanks to historical mythmaking, Obama will develop the reputation as a brave pioneer in defending property rights and a promoter of exploration, along the lines of Henry the Navigator, or Ferdinand and Isabella.

    Then historians and journalists will publish articles trying to debunk the Obama myth (“did you know he socialized a significant part of the economy and presided over a tremendous growth in the national debt, etc.”).

    1. As long as historical mythmaking ends up celebrating the defense of property rights and promotion of exploration and innovation, I’m OK with them getting the specifics wrong.

      1. I would rather the US government not attempt to legislate anything outside of ten miles beyond its borders.

    2. +1 you didn’t build that asteroid

  5. Space better get its well water tested.

    1. I’m guessing it’ll be easier for Syrian fighting-aged males to get in the country than possible radio-active material from Space.

  6. “A United States citizen engaged in commercial recovery of an asteroid resource or a space resource under this chapter shall be entitled to any asteroid resource or space resource obtained”

    “Excluding, of course, Unobtainium.”

    1. And stuff that’s been tagged.

  7. I call the moon and Mars. Trespassers keep out!

    1. Not Uranus?

      1. Ahhh (in ALL Mah Endless Glory) claims YOUR Anus ALL to MAH Self!!!!

  8. That was pretty funny. Haven’t seen him in a long long time.

    1. He left a cabin boy, but returned a cabin man.

      1. The cabin boy, the cabin boy,
        The dirty little nipper
        He lined his ass
        With broken glass,
        And circumcised the skipper!
        And all the shores,
        Were lined with whores?
        The crew was nearly frantic!
        So here we come,
        So full of rum,
        The North Atlantic squadron!
        Higgins, Higgins.
        My Gawd, he had a big-‘un,
        Twice ’round the deck,
        An’ twice ’round his neck,
        The rest, was used for riggin’s!

        Whether or not it is “Inter-Galactic Talk Like A Pirate Day”…

        Ye can NOT out-pirate-talk MEEEE!!!

  9. Yay, I can own a space rock! Now to figure out how to get there, mine it, take what’s left of it and turn into my own libertopian paradise.

  10. When Dr. Smith wants to take you for some drilling, make sure you bring the robot.

    1. Dr. Smith was libertarian before it was cool.

  11. “A United States citizen engaged in commercial recovery of an asteroid resource or a space resource under this chapter shall be entitled to any asteroid resource or space resource obtained, including to possess, own, transport, use, and sell the asteroid resource or space resource obtained in accordance with applicable law, including the international obligations of the United States.”

    Now, just try actually launching to get, or attempting to bring back said asteroid.

  12. What happens when the mining ships return loaded with booty and look down to see no lines on the earth demarcating the United States?

    1. They’ll to what all real capitalists do: Land in China.

    2. Oh, I almost forgot:

      +1 no labels campaign!

      (True story: I just googled “No Labels Campaign” for yucks, first link was a paid ad for the No Labels Campaign)

      1. Do they sell labels for the No Labels Campaign?

  13. Now investors don’t have to worry about whether they’ll plow millions (or billions) into a space mining company only to be told later that it broke the law

    Nevermind that this is a sad statement on the rule of law in modern times. That you have to be explicitly granted permission to do something productive.

    1. I remember way back in the heady days of the 90s someone on the radio was reading a story about the possibility of space mining and the other commentator immediately decried the environmental trashing of the rest of the universe.

      The guy reading the story did have the temerity to point out that it might be better to environmentally trash the cold, lifeless vacuum of space instead of our own back yard.

    2. Is that really a new thing, though? Weren’t most European explorers of the New World doing so under royal charters or something like that?

      1. I dunno, I’m not a European explorer. Maybe it’s not that new.

      2. Pretty much. The main difference was that the Spanish and Portuguese explored, founded, and exploited for the king. The Dutch & the English did so in the name of the king with the profits/losses accruing to corporations or groups of individuals.

    3. Not to mention the fact that, regardless of what the words on the page actually say, if the government decides they want to shut down some space mining company, I’m sure they’ll be able to find an excuse. “Plain language” be damned.

      1. Well, they can always make a new law.

    4. That’s what happens when you have the rule of positive law.

  14. I’m putting a zero gravity sex resort on my asteroid.

    1. “Sorry, I was picturing Whore Island Asteroid.” /Archer

      1. Or would it be Whore Ass-teroid?

        1. You can have her whore ass for yourserf, #1 GI!

  15. The Spice Must Flow!

  16. …entitled to any asteroid resource or space resource obtained, including to possess, own, transport, use, and sell the asteroid resource or space resource obtained in accordance with applicable law…

    Good. I trust that I can “transport” my asteroid to the southern shore of Lake Michigan so as to mine it close to the steel works there.

    1. If you slam it into the earth hard enough, think of the billions of dollars in improvements to the Michigan countryside!

      1. Or Chicago’s cityside!

        1. “Nuclear weapons for urban renewal” was an old battle cry of mine!

          In the wake of almost-for-sure knowledge of what REALLY killed the dinosaurs, yeah, our nukes are worthless and puny…

          Now, my new slogan is,

          “Gigaton asteroid impacts for urban renewal”!

  17. Does it seem a tad imperialistic to anyone else that the United States has just taken upon itself the right to grant title to ALL of the matter in the universe? just sayin’

    1. Nothing stopping any other country from doing the same.

  18. in accordance with applicable law, including the international obligations of the United States

    That looks like some good blockage right there, for those who want to think the UN Space Treaty applies.

    1. I was curious about that myself. The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 aka the “Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies” forbids States from declaring sovereignty over celestial bodies, so it wouldn’t seem to cover private commercial activity. That being said, the plain text of laws hasn’t stopped the assholes from doing whatever the fuck they want before, so I wouldn’t rely on this law for protection. If the government wants to fuck you over, they’ll find a way to do so. We no longer have rule of law, it’s rule of man all the way down.

      1. So, I could fly out to an asteroid, claim it as my own, and establish my own state on it?

        1. If you could pull it off, not sure who would be able to evict you.

  19. Wait until the enviro-nuts lash out over the wet (dry) lands, climate change, strip mining, trash, pollution, fracking, etc on a future far out asteroid.

    1. In space no one can hear you protest.

      1. #darkmattermatters

  20. Semi-OT: Anyone read Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves? How plausible is it to embed a nuclear-powered spaceship in an asteroid and drive (fly? propel?) the whole shebang back to near-Earth orbit?

    BTW, if you haven’t already read it, don’t waste your time doing anything more than just skimming it. Overall, not that good. Last third was almost unreadable.

    1. I think it depends a lot on where it starts out. It’s all about how much energy you need to change the momentum enough so that it goes where you want it. It doesn’t take a whole lot to change the trajectory of something the size of an asteroid in space in a fairly significant way over time.

      1. Asterank.com has a great database of asteroids and their suspected value- total and net after current mining/transport costs are applied- which is fodder for some significant dreaming.

        There are significant riches in near earth meteors that don’t require massive trips to the asteroid belt. We could have rocks orbiting our planet in 50 years.

  21. Some asteroids are believed to contain as much as $20 trillion in minerals

    Now we know where the US can get the raw materials to build a Death Star.

    1. I assume that bringing that amount of minerals to earth would substantially change commodity prices.

      1. i think they’re more using it as a measure of just how much there is, because telling someone there’s 3.4×10^12 tons of iron in a 5mi asteroid is meaningless to anyone who doesn’t work in a blast furnace, as opposed to a real valuation of the resource.

      2. If it changes the price of tea in China…

        OR the price of pot in Colorado…

        …then it will affect inter-state commerce, so therefor Emperor Obozo can micro-manage the snot out of it!

        Speaking of “snot”, when and where I blow my nose, affects the purchase rate of “booger rags”, AKA “handkerchiefs”… Therefor, ergo ectoplasmic hoctor-proctor-schmoctor-proctor, there is “Constitutional Justification” for having the Feds micro-manage the SNOT out of, when and where do I blow my nose!!!

        One of these days, I will no longer be able to restrain my retaliatory wrath, and I will deploy “Booger Beam” in response! Please do NOT ask what “Booger Beam” is, or you (and me) MIGHT be issued a subpoena!

        1. Hmmm…not bad, keep up your training and you may be able to go against Agile Cyborg one day.

          1. Booger Beam vs Cosmicum Ray

            like dragon ball, but nastier.

  22. Guess I need to hurry up and get my interplanetary space transport business off the ground. Gonna be lots of people who want to join the new gold rush in space.

    1. That’s how Leland Stanford made his money?

  23. But can you drop them?

  24. H-How is this possible?! Barack Hussein “at some point you’ve made enough money” Obama, making a correct and pro-capitalist policy decision?!

    I feel like I’ve slipped into a parallel dimension. All right Rod Serling, show yourself!

  25. You’ll be able to ‘own’ real property in space just as you are able to ‘own’ real property here on earth.

    I can’t wait to see what the import fees will be.

    1. Also, what will be the real estate taxes?

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