Space capitalism: Is asteroid mining and space colonization legal? | Peter Ward

Published on Oct 15, 2019
The private sector may need the Outer Space Treaty to be updated before it can make any claims to celestial bodies or their resources.

– The Outer Space Treaty, which was signed in 1967, is the basis of international space law. Its regulations set out what nations can and cannot do, in terms of colonization and enterprise in space.

– One major stipulation of the treaty is that no nation can individually claim or colonize any part of the universe—when the US planted a flag on the Moon in 1969, it took great pains to ensure the world it was symbolic, not an act of claiming territory.

– Essentially to do anything in space, as a private enterprise, you have to be able to make money. When it comes to asteroid mining, for instance, it would be “astronomically” expensive to set up such an industry. The only way to get around this would be if the resources being extracted were so rare you could sell them for a fortune on Earth.

Peter Ward studied journalism at the University of Sheffield before moving to Dubai, where he reported on the energy sector. After three years in the Middle East, he earned his master’s degree in business journalism from Columbia University Journalism School. His work has appeared in GQ, Bloomberg, The Economist, and Newsweek. He lives in New York City. His latest book is The Consequential Frontier: Challenging the Privatization of Space (https://amzn.to/2VImJD8)

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