Interpreting the UN Space Treaties as the Basis for a Sustainable Regime of Space Resource Exploitation
Long considered only from a theoretical perspective, a spate of initiatives revolving around the exploration and utilization of the Moon and asteroids, both public and private, have recently reintroduced the relatively long-standing United Nations (UN) treaties to the pressing issue of natural resource appropriation. In direct response to the budding development of an American space mining industry, the United States adopted the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act in November 2015. This Act was the first legal instrument to explicitly grant property rights to private enterprises over resources extracted from asteroids and other celestial bodies. Though the aim of domestic initiatives such as the 2015 US Act is to increase legal certainty for companies and their investors, this goal can only be fully achieved by an elucidation of the fundamental principles of international space law that they wish to implement. This article wishes to contribute to this daunting challenge by offering a possible interpretation of the existing UN space treaties in light of recent developments in space mining regulation.