Space may be the final frontier, but according to the pesky 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty, celestial bodies may not be claimed for any particular country. But what about the things on the celestial bodies–specifically, the things that can be sold for lots of money? The SPACE act, which would authorize American companies to keep whatever they mine from asteroids, has just passed in the House of Representatives. If you can mine it, American business will come.
But who will regulate this American asteroid mineral rush? Probably the Federal Aviation Administration, theorizes The Washington Post. Even though the FAA is focused on air travel, it regulates space launches that must travel through airspace on their journey to outer space.
The legislation is careful to mention that American businesses’ asteroid-hunting expeditions must go forth “in manners consistent with the existing international obligations of the United States.” The act doesn’t state how international conflict over space resources might be resolved; instead, it sticks to defining domestic legal protocol, stating that American companies can bring suit against other American companies for grievances regarding asteroid loot.
But the SPACE act is not only aimed at the private sector. It has a provision pushing the president to “facilitate the commercial exploration and utilization of space resources to meet national needs.”
The SPACE act passed in the House with a bipartisan vote of 284-133, says SpaceCoastDaily. Now it will head to the Senate.