Luxembourg establishes its own legal framework for asteroid mining

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The competition heats up: Luxembourg on November 11 announced that it is establishing its own legal framework to protect the profits of any private asteroid mining effort.

Because the UN Outer Space Treaty forbids them from claiming any territory in space, this new law essentially says that Luxembourg law will instead be applied specifically to the resources mined. Or to put it in more colloquial terms, “Finders, Keepers,” though it comes with a lot of complex further regulation required to satisfy that treaty.

The draft law also lays down the regulations for the authorization and the supervision of space resources utilization missions, including both the exploration and use of such resources. Whoever intends to undertake a space resources utilization mission will be required to obtain an authorization to do so, for each specific and determined mission. The text sets forth the necessity for a book of obligations for any mission, such as activities to be carried in or out of Luxembourg, to allow government supervision of the activities of operators and regulating their rights and obligations. The legislation is expected to enter into effect in early 2017.

This complexity will cost money unnecessarily, and also require an unnecessary bureaucracy with a great deal of power over the actions of space companies. It illustrates again how really bad the Outer Space Treaty is, and how it will oppress future spacefarers. The sooner the treaty is dumped the better. If we don’t do it here on Earth, I guarantee that the people of space will do it, as soon as they become self-sufficient enough to thumb their noses at the ground-pounders on the mother planet.


One comment

  • Edward

    Here is a Space News commentary on this topic:
    The wealth creating potential of outer space is enormous. We cannot afford to whittle that wealth away through badly designed, top-down law.

    The author suggests that a lack of government sovereignty can work nicely. Business can work in space without Earth governments violating the Outer Space Treaty.

    From the commentary: “Fortunately, we may already have an answer without realizing it. The answer is to embrace private law — property rights and dispute adjudication that arises out of contractual relationships among commercial entities, and does not rely on sovereign enforcement.

    Disputes resolved by arbitration can work nicely, he argues, because it is already common in today’s international economy, and “Leeson further estimates that 90 of these arbitration decisions are complied with voluntarily. Even if a trader loses a judgment, defecting on a previous agreement to abide by an arbitrator’s judgment will render that trader untrustworthy, making it extremely difficult to continue in business in the future.

    This suggests that government sovereignty in space may not be as necessary as we may think, in the near future, as most disputes are able to be resolved through already established methods.

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