10 thoughts on “Is Asteroid Mining Legal?”

  1. Understanding the legality of asteroid mining starts with the 1967 OST.

    No it doesn’t.

    customary international law has essentially recognized property rights based on possession

    What they are almost recognizing is a pre-existant condition… natural law.

    Titus in on to it. The fact is the entity with the most power decides what the law is. Thomas thinks it has to do with sovereignty which only obscures the facts.

    You come across something that nobody owns. You claim it. Somebody else hits you over the head with a rock and takes it away from you. You come across something else that nobody owns. This time you get a bunch of your friends together and they all agree to claim part of this unowned thing. You are about to be hit over the head with a rock when one of your friends comes to your aid. Then a guy with a lot of friends with rocks tries to bash all your friends with rocks. They call this guy sovereign. He has no divine right to your stuff.

    After all that, should you let some guy with a piece of OST paper take your stuff away.

    No, you get your scissors so they can’t cover your rock with their paper.

    You claim; you defend; you laugh at socialists.

  2. In the OST, the signatories agree that they won’t make claims of sovereignty over a celestial body, which is well and proper. But to interpret the OST to mean that the signatories can forbid anyone from owning part of a celestial body would itself be an assertion of sovereignty over the celestial body, the very act denied by the treaty. If the signatories are in a position to deny a company’s claim of ownership, then they are also claiming to be the controlling legal authority over the celestial body in question. Since the treaty forbids the signatories from sovereignty, the interpretation that private property is forbidden under the treaty is a logical contradiction, and we’re going around in circles, like the loops in this comment.

    1. I see your misunderstanding George. You think they are exercising their sovereignty by telling other people what to do. That’s such a common misunderstanding of govts. They are only there to help you.

      What’s actually happening is they’re (just to protect your interests of course) only acting as agents of mankind. See it’s mankinds sovereignty they are protecting, not their own. As a member of mankind, they’re just acting as your agent to protect your sovereign right not to own anything.

      Doesn’t that make it clear?

      Call it negative sovereignty that cancels out any logical inconsistency.

      Next week they’re going to help inflate your currency so it’s worthless and you won’t have the burden of carrying any around with you.

      1. We should confuse everyone further by pointing out that none of the plans announced so far fit any definition of “mining”. The small asteroids in question are already mobile hunks of ore ready to be transported to a smelter or mill. When you’re rolling a railroad care full of iron ore toward the blast furnace, the “mining” part of the job was long ago and far away.

        It may seem pedantic, but the change to a more accurate term might help shift the conception from owning a mine site (implying a piece of land, mineral rights, etc) to processing a load of ore (which belongs to whoever signs for it, as far as the railroad is concerned).

        If I was really pedantic I’d point out that the dictionaries say mining for ore involves digging in the earth, forcing us to look to other definitions, so “mining” asteroids would more properly describe planting explosive booby traps on them. 😀

    2. I hope you don’t mind that I steal your argument and spread it far and wide. It’s one of those things that sits right in front of you but you don’t see it.

  3. As usual, the comments on the Wired site are so stupid they make my hair hurt. You’ve got the inevitable gushing of colonialist guilt, you’ve got the inevitable “it belongs to everyone” idiocy — and a good quarter of the commenters don’t seem to understand mass, orbits, or simple physics.

  4. A better way of approaching the problem is to ask “if it prevents [exploitation of asteroids via mining in this case, but there are tons of other propositions you can fit in this space, like “selling alcohol”] is it viable law?” Viable law codifies the procedure for interests to achieve their goals in an orderly and just manner – if a promulgated law fails to serve the active interests in the arena, it will not “bite”, it will either be routed around by the interests, or it will choke off activity in that arena, and the interests will find a more useful arena to purse their goals.

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