SWF will join with the University of Leiden’s Institute of Air and Space Law to support an international effort to clarify rights and obligations in the emerging space-mining industry.
“Space mining is inspiring both intense interest and intense debate,” said SWF Executive Director, Michael Simpson. “Our goal is to identify common ground so that governments can know how to respond and investors and entrepreneurs can know what to expect.”
SWF Project Manager, Ian Christensen reported that the working group being formed is seeking to include members from academic, business, government, and policy organizations. It is inspired by discussions held last December at the Hague Institute for Global Justice in the Netherlands where representatives from these groups met together and came away with a solid feeling that they could work very productively with each other.
SWF’s founder and Board President, Cynda Collins Arsenault noted that this kind of work is not new to the Foundation. “We were a major partner in the Panel on Asteroid Threat Mitigation (PATM) whose work provided building blocks for the creation of the International Asteroid Warning Network and the Space Mission Planning Advisory Group.” Although these institutions are independent of the United Nations system, they were endorsed by the UN General Assembly in 2013.
Prior to joining SWF, Simpson, then President of the International Space University was a member of the PATM.
SWF expects that its new partnership will be able to identify areas of agreement that could permit entrepreneurs to close profitable business plans while addressing the concerns of many people and governments over the implications of a “gold rush” in space.
“I expect our work will take two to three years,” Simpson said, “and that there will be several more years of discussions between governments afterwards. From my perspective that is an acceptable price to pay if we can avoid a hostile shouting match when the first resources extracted from some celestial body other than Earth reach the market.”