In a contentious hearing on Wednesday, the Republican controlled House Science Committee approved a measure that would give companies rights to materials they mine from asteroids over complaints from Democrats that the measure was unconstitutional and drawn up to benefit a single company.
Legislation that would grant property rights to entities mining asteroids has been introduced in Congress.
“Any asteroid resources obtained in outer space are the property of the entity that obtained such resources, which shall be entitled to all property rights thereto, consistent with applicable provisions of Federal law,” the measure states.
Video Caption: A 1967 United Nations treaty states that outer space isn’t up for grabs.This hasn’t stopped at least one entrepreneur from selling land on our closest celestial neighbors. Scientific American editor Clara Moskowitz explains.
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“Nearly 40 years after the U.S. flag was planted on the moon, a global rush to the final frontier has some pondering property rights out there.
“India, Japan and China are now circling the moon with their respective spacecraft â€“ to be joined next year by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Then there’s the Google Lunar X Prize, a $30 million competition for the first privately funded team to send a robot to the moon, travel some 1,640 feet (500 meters) and transmit video, images and data back to Earth. The legal profession sees a brief in the making.”
The Boston Globe’s Drake Bennett takes a look at lunar property rights and other space settlement issues in a story titled, “My space: If we really want to explore space, maybe we should sell it off to the highest bidders.”
Writing for The Sunday Times, Mike Peake is worried that Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic flights will replicate the experience with one of the billionaire’s other travel ventures.
“To get an idea of what the flight into space will really be like, you have to extrapolate from the experience of riding on one of Beardieâ€™s Virgin trains. Theyâ€™ll have closed the buffet before you even arrive in space and then the craft will be kept in a holding stack for four hours before you can land, during which time the air-conditioning will be switched off and the air will smell like the steam from a pressure cooker full of cabbage. Then, when you write to Branson at Necker Island to complain, youâ€™ll get an automated reply from the customer services department in Slough.”
Speaking of which, New Mexico officials are pushing ahead with plans to build Spaceport America, whereÂ Virgin Galactic is set to become an anchor tenant. Next up: a public vote in Otera County on a tax increase to support construction. The Alamogordo Daily News has the latest. The Las Cruces Sun-News also has an update here.