Space Law Seminar Reveals the Rift in the Legal Community Over the National Authority to Permit the Mining of Space Resources 

On April 16, the international space experts had conducted a vigorous debate about the topic whether the national or the international laws should rule the space mining at Space Law Workshop at 34th Space Symposium. 

“The issues, certainly are there is no lo legality about the permission,” according to Tanja Masson-Zwaan, a former president of IISL or International Institute of Space Law. “In Outer Space Treaty, it does not vividly answer the question of whether a certain person can own an extracted resource.”

There are passed laws from the United States and Luxembourg, which offers the companies with rights to own any space resources that they have extracted. To attract the investment, the companies are depending on the legal authority for their plans in the case of mining not only in the asteroids but also to the moon. 

“I am a running a company under the law of United States, I am responsible for following the law of the country,” said George Sowers, a professor from the Colorado School of Mines and a former vice president and a chief scientist from the United Launch Alliance. 

Not all of the international space experts agree, but the individual nations possess the authority to allow the companies to extract the resources in orbit.

“All of the objects in the outer space, together with other non-man-made objects there are all subjected to international regulations – I repeat, international regulations and not a national regulation,” said Stephan Hobe, a director of Institute of Space Law at the Germany’s University of Cologne.

He said that is not against the idea of space mining, but he firmly believes that before that activity started, the international representative needs to conduct negotiation and have the rules for it.  

Among the things, the Moon Agreement is affirming that the resources found in the lunar space are the humanity’s common heritage and that the international regime needs to be established to rule their exploration. 

Hobe added that his dream is that the countries like the United States, Russia, and others would sit together in Vienna to devise the regime that relates to the space resources.

Hague Space Resources Governance Working Group, which is led by Netherland’s Leiden University, is finding ways to promote the dialogue with the help of a document that it launched in September.