The Law of Extraterrestrial Resources

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A. Manning (2020), JBIS, 73, pp.225-231

Refcode: 2020.73.225
Keywords: Space Law, Outer Space Treaty, Moon Agreement

Since Gerard O’Neill’s 1970s studies it has been appreciated that space settlements, such as Avalon, will require considerable exploitation of extraterrestrial resources. The legal implications of this are becoming an increasingly relevant issue. In recent years, new organisations such as Blue Origin and SpaceX have appeared which seek to explore outer space and to exploit the resources to be found there, particularly on the Moon, Mars and Near Earth Asteroids. By their very nature, these will be extensive and expensive undertakings that will require substantial investment, from nation states or private corporations or a combination of both. The legal regime concerning the ownership and exploitation of outer space and space resources will, it is suggested, directly influence the economic value of such activities, including any profits to be made, and so will also influence the scale of investment. An analysis is undertaken concerning the current state of Space Law concerning these issues to gauge whether the legal regime, as it stands at present, could be said to facilitate endeavours to access and exploit extraterrestrial resources or whether indeed it stands in their way.

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