Asteroid mining now legal – for the US

Private US companies can now mine asteroids for minerals, despite it violating a major treaty of space laws. This came after the signing of a major bill by United States President Barack Obama.

Image courtesy of: NASA

The bill called the US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, allows US citizens to obtain, own and mine asteroids. This law makes it easier for private American companies to explore and obtain space resources commercially. Until now, nobody could claim commercial ownership of any space material.

The bill states: “A United States citizen engaged in commercial recovery of an asteroid resource or a space resource under this chapter shall be entitled to any asteroid resource or space resource obtained, including to possess, own, transport, use, and sell the asteroid resource or space resource obtained in accordance with applicable law, including the international obligations of the United States.”

Eric Anderson, co-founder and co-chairman of Planetary Resource – an American company aiming to make profits from asteroid mining – said in a statement, “this is the single greatest recognition of property rights in history … this legislation establishes the same supportive framework that created the great economies of history, and will encourage the sustained development of space.”

In 1967, the US wrote and signed the Outer Space Treaty along with 124 other countries – it states “celestial bodies,” including the moon may not be claimed by or owned by any nation.