For as long as we’ve existed, humans have looked up at the stars — and wondered. What is up there? Who is out there?
Now, to that list of questions we can add: And CAN I HAVE IT?
The United States has already shown its penchant for claiming ownership of space-based things. There are not one, not two, but six U.S. flags on the moon, in case any of you other nations start getting ideas. (Never mind that the flags have all faded to a stateless white by now.)
So it only makes sense that American lawmakers would seek to guarantee property rights for U.S. space corporations. Under the SPACE Act, which just passed the House, businesses that do asteroid mining will be able to keep whatever they dig up:
“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.”
This is how we know commercial space exploration is serious. The opportunity here is so vast that businesses are demanding federal protections for huge, floating objects they haven’t even surveyed yet.
But it’s actually important that we’re talking about this now, because we don’t want to wind up in a situation where multiple companies are fighting for the same patch of rock without having a way to resolve it. There are two key questions at stake: Who should regulate commercial space activity? And what rules should apply?
By default, the relevant authority could wind up being the Federal Aviation Administration. An odd choice, you might think. What could the FAA, an agency whose chief concern is air travel, want with outer space? Well, the FAA is the agency that grants licenses for commercial space launches (the ones that aren’t performed for NASA or the Defense Department, anyway).
For the rest of this article, click here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2015/05/22/the-house-just-passed-a-bill-about-space-mining-the-future-is-here/