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 |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Is 'The Pulsar Positioning System' Evidence For SETI?
'For a hyperspace jump, you need at least four beacons for an accurate fix.' - Harry Harrison, 1959.
Are Observed Radio Bursts An Alien Propulsion Technology?
'These cones were driven through space by light pressure, the possibilities of which force they had long utilized.' - Edmond Hamilton, 1929.
Caltech's ET Laboratory Looks For New Earths
'...set my automatic astronomical instruments to searching for a habitable planet.'- Edmond Hamilton, 1936.
Shh! USAF's Secret X-37B Space Plane Breaks Record
'More airplane than spaceship...' - Robert Heinlein, 1951.
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.
Cattle Avoidance Feature In Indian Autonomous Cars
'The driver went about the business of gently slipping the teflon-coated metal scoop beneath the first animal...'
Project KOVR Fashion Protection From Infosphere
'... the entire shroudlike membrane took on whatever physical characteristics were projected at any nanosecond.'
Twist Bioscience High Density Digital Data On DNA
'They tied the memory to the bloodline and that was their record!'
'We're Not Creating A Terminator' Say Russians About Gun-Wielding Robot Fedor
Nobody is thinking about the Terminator. Westworld, maybe.
Vantablack Now IMMEASURABLY Black
'a black coating now thatís ninety-nine percent absorptive...'
Mercedes-Benz Autonomous Taxi Fleet In 3 Years
'... the taxi utilized sophisticated electronic sensors to perceive its surroundings.'
Is 'The Pulsar Positioning System' Evidence For SETI?
'For a hyperspace jump, you need at least four beacons for an accurate fix.'
Someday, You Might Like VR Enough To Move In
'That barrier was going to melt away someday soon. The transhumanists had promised...'
Humans Use Mental Power For Turtle Slavery
Now we need to start looking for animals with fingers...
Solar-Powered Moisture Vaporator
'The atmosphere yielded its moisture with reluctance.'
DxtER! Tricorder Prize Won By Final Frontier Medical Devices
We've been waiting a long time for this, Star Trek fans.
President Trump's Wall As Otra Nation Hyperloop
'...an hollow tube must be constructed the whole distance... as to admit a four wheeled carriage...'
Pickup Lines From Artificial Intelligences
'They hate us, you know... The humans. They'll stop at nothing.'
Pooper Scooper Drone Robot Watchdog 1
'Robots pick up the garbage and junk...'
Cassie Robot Brings AT-ST Walker To Life
There's even a log test!
Hundreds Of Robot Lawnmowers Invade Texas Town
'The mower reached the edge of the lawn, clucked to itself...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories