There's No Rush: Developing a Legal Framework for Space Resource Activities

Cheney, Thomas (2019). There's No Rush: Developing a Legal Framework for Space Resource Activities. Journal of Space Law, 43 pp. 106–150.


There has been considerable excitement surrounding the regulation of space resource extraction and utilization activities since the 2012 debut of Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries – pioneering companies which shared the ambitious goal of mining asteroids. This excitement has spawned national legislation in the United States, Luxembourg and potentially more nations. It has also sparked considerable discussion at the main international forum for discussing the international governance of outer space, the Legal Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. Additionally, The Hague International Space Resources Governance Working Group was established as a ‘multistakeholder dialogue’ with the aim of developing ‘draft building blocks’ for an ‘international framework’. This article examines what resources exist within our solar system, and the viability of economic extraction of those resources. It considers the nature of celestial bodies and whether differing approaches to extraction and utilization are necessary or at least worthy of consideration. It also discusses the nature and necessity of an international framework, given the potential for conflict over space resources and the need to consider issues of sustainability and equity. Ultimately, this article argues that given the demise of the two asteroid mining pioneers, it is worth taking the time to step back and reconsider our approach to the governance
of space resource activities.

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