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  • The commercial space industry is heating up

  • but right now, Outter Space is about as lawless

  • as the Wild West

  • The question is not just who owns space,

  • but whether anyone actually can

  • The closest thing we have to a law governing Space

  • is the Outter Space Treaty,

  • an agreement first drawn up by the United Nations in 1967

  • and ratified now by 102 countries.

  • The treaty was written during the heat of the Space Race

  • It sought to prevent territorial disputes

  • by making it illegal for any nation

  • to claim ownership over Outerspace or any celestial body

  • But the treaty makes no mention of private companies

  • and the issue could come to a head now that several firms

  • are planning ventures in Space

  • For example, the american company Planetary Resources

  • aims to mine asteroids for precious metals,

  • and water for rocket fuel

  • But it's not clear the firm can claim to own any part of an asteroid

  • including the resources they mine

  • Of course this hasn't stopped some people

  • from staking claims in Space

  • Nevada entrepreneur Danis Hope has sold millions of acres of property

  • on the Moon, Mars and other planetary bodies

  • despite his dubious right to do so

  • Hope's been charging $19.99, plus shipping and handling

  • for an acre on the Moon,

  • and $22.49 for an acre on Mars

  • So far, he claims to have sold 7% of the Moon

  • The law also gets thorny in another arena: space debris

  • According to the Outer Space Treaty, all space objects,

  • including defunct satellites,

  • belong to the country that launched them...

  • for ever

  • But what if a company refuses to take responsability for it's own debris cleanup?

  • Under current law,

  • no other country has the right to try to salvage or dispose of dead sattellites,

  • even if they pose a collision risk to everyone else's space craft

  • All of this uncertainty means one thing:

  • There might soon be a booming market for space lawyers

  • For Scientific American's Instant Egghead

  • I'm Clara Moskowitz

The commercial space industry is heating up

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Who Owns Outer Space? - Instant Egghead #56

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    joey joey posted on 2021/05/16
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