In November of 2015, the 114th United States Congress enacted the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015 (Space Act) and, in turn, thrusted the door to outer space mining wide open for Americans. Unfortunately, while the Space Act provided a solution for corporations, it created a dilemma for the United States. As currently enacted, the Space Act directly conflicts with the world’s foundational and most basic framework for international space law: The Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (Outer Space Treaty).
To reassure other signatories and to ensure the United States complies with its international obligations under the Outer Space Treaty, Congress should establish a centralized regulatory authority to govern the activities of American entities in outer space and amend the Space Act to require bonding and permitting processes for entities wishing to engage in asteroid mining. This Article is the first to analyze how to modify existing legislation to impose sufficient regulation so the United States may once again comply with its international obligations under Article VI of the Outer Space Treaty. This Article will show that given the inherent risks of outer space mining, the intent and origins of the Outer Space Treaty, and the conflicting allowances contained in the Space Act, changes must be enacted to ensure that the tradition of treaty compliance and mineral-extraction regulation does not stop at our planet’s troposphere.
Braden N. Anderson, Mining the Milky Way: How to Bring America’s Extraterrestrial Excursions Back Into Compliance With International Obligations,
J. Air L. & Com.