The development of natural resources in outer space

The extraction of natural resources from outer space sources – once the stuff of science fiction – is closer than ever to becoming a reality, as several entities pursue the best way to unlock our solar system's most valuable resources.

Space mining raises several intriguing legal questions to which there is currently no clear answer, as the scarce body of international law applicable to outer space activities lags behind the rapid advances in technology fueling the advancement of this burgeoning industry. This paper provides an introduction to the outer space mining industry and the legal challenges it faces, including an overview of proposed space mining operations, the industry's first movers, and the current state of the governing law (both domestic and international). It also analyses the potential for application of existing principles of both international law, including the law of the sea and terrestrial mining projects, to the not-so-distant future of space mining.

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