Quote note (#204)
If there’s a downside to this, it’s well-hidden:
Richard Yonck, writing in the Scientific American, calls the recent “passage of the Space Act of 2015 in the U.S. House and Senate” the Dawn of the Space Mining Age. In essence, it “gives any American who successfully extracts natural resources from outer space the property rights over the haul.” The act has angered those who believe the cosmos should be free from the greedy scourge of capitalism. For the first time in human history, celestial objects, once the property of all because they were inaccessible to everyone, can be bought and sold by those who can reach them. […] … At stake is not only the biggest Gold Rush in human history, but the greatest territorial expansion since the Age of Discovery. Most products built from space resources will be left outside of earth’s gravity well and men will go up to join their products rather than return them to Terra. Exploration means diaspora.
Off-world development is going to take a while to catalyze, but it’s ultimately where everything that matters is going to happen.
Since possession is 99% of the law under the new regime, the capitalist ethos threatens to return with a vengeance, much to the discomfort of instinctive liberals. “Under one provision of .. the Space Resource Exploration and Utilization Act of 2015, commercial companies get the rights to any resources that they collect from celestial bodies. The provision is important for companies like the asteroid mining company Planetary Resources, which recently partnered with Virgin Galactic. ‘Now, if you go out somewhere in space and you pick [something] up, it’s yours,’ said Chris Lewicki, the president and chief engineer of Planetary Resources.” […] It’s the kind of resource-grabbing starting gun and invitation to innovation that hasn’t been seen since 1492, which may be one reason why the Left and International Law experts are so uneasy with it.