Understanding the Promises and Pitfalls of Outer Space Mining and the Need for an International Regulatory Body to Govern the Extraction of Space-Based Resources

Mitchell Powell


Space exploration is about to undergo a monumental change and the global legal and regulatory infrastructure is massively unprepared. When the bulk of international space law was written, the Cold War was raging, and man had not even landed on the Moon yet. Now, thanks to advances in technology, a seismic shift has occurred which will see private industry leading the future of space exploration with national space agencies as partners, rather than the other way around as has been the status quo for decades. One of the most lucrative possibilities luring private firms to space is the opportunity to extract resources from a celestial body such as an asteroid, another planet, or the Moon. It is estimated that trillions of dollars’ worth of precious metals, liquids, and gasses exist on these bodies. A galactic resource race will soon be underway, and space-faring nations must take the lead to ensure that legal, economic, and environmental issues posed by such space exploration is hammered out before it is too late. I assert that if left to their own devices, firms will fail to follow the same standard of their fore-father government space agencies. As a result, we need an international agreement or body for the twenty-first century to govern and regulate the extraction of resources from outer space led by the great space hegemons.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/tlp.2019.229


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