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I’ll bet that New Scientist has this space law thing wrong

Or rather, the economics of how it must be:

It is a dystopian vision, but not an inconceivable one. China is weighing up the business case for mining the moon, while the US firm Moon Express is already developing technology to do it. Then there are the companies planning to mine asteroids. Such ventures received a shot in the arm last November when President Obama signed the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, aka the Space Act, which grants US citizens and companies ownership of anything they can extract from celestial bodies. It fired the starting pistol for a dash to carve up the riches buried in space.

The risks and potential rewards are astronomical, and the whole enterprise is blasting off into a legal void. That could spell trouble on a cosmic scale. “We need rules, preferably at international level,” says Tanja Masson-Zwaan, president of the International Institute of Air and Space Law at Leiden University in the Netherlands. But what should those rules be?

But I’m not prepared to subscribe to find out how wrong…..

16 thoughts on “I’ll bet that New Scientist has this space law thing wrong”

  1. Does anyone still read it? I gave up when they abandoned the scientific method in favour of cheerleading for the model devotee Thermageddonists, without addressing the poor methodology and cooked data. I wouldn’t trust them on any issue now.

  2. The Inimitable Steve

    I was curious about what the “dystopian vision” is:

    Apart from the odd footprint and the remnants of a few probes, the moon has been practically untouched for 4 billion years. It is a celestial wilderness, but maybe not for much longer. If would-be space miners get their way, future lunar visitors could see a very different kind of desolation: deep scars, autonomous diggers and great piles of ore.


    New Scientist is against human expansion into space now? We’ve to romanticise the dirty grey wastelands of the Moon?

  3. Why not? They romanticise the death zone that is the centre of the Antarctic.

    Or “pristine wilderness” as they call it.

    We could mine the Antarctic and not a single living thing would be harmed.

  4. I don’t know how the Outer Space Treaty (I think that’s the one) applies to companies that would mine the moon.

    Wikipedia’s article on the treaty probably has links to whatever other treaties would be relevant.

  5. The only real factor is getting there.

    Piss on their treaties. Esp any involving the UN. That shower of leftist shite needs a Brexit 2 to get us out from under.

  6. Outer Space is similar to International Waters – no country can claim sovereignty, but any person/entity can use it, and the users are covered by the law they are a citizen of, or the law of the country their vessel is registered with.

  7. Seconding Ljh. New Scientist turned into the science magazine version of the Guardian years ago. I’m particularly fond of this line

    the moon has been practically untouched for 4 billion years

    All those craters were there from day one, apparently.

  8. When referring to the New ‘Scientist’, please remember the sneer quotes. The only ones still buying it are university libraries, probably because the acquisitions committee are still debating whether to cancel the sub.

    A pity, it used to be required reading, but that was decades ago.

  9. What on the Moon is valuable enough to mine? Even if there were gold bars sitting on the Lunar surface it wouldn’t be cost-effective to retrieve them. Are they after Helium-3 for aneutronic fusion? Plenty of people are convinced that’ll be a pipe-dream for many decades yet. If you want to get water into LEO it costs less fuel to bring it from Deimos than from the Moon. Admittedly travel time is a problem…

    The smartest thing you can do on the Moon is refuel aluminium-based solid rocket motors. But even that presupposes that you’ll be going on an interplanetary voyage afterwards, otherwise why bother?

  10. TI Steve,

    Thanks for that – I too was curious how extracting resources from an inert, barren, atmosphere-free, cratered rock could be dystopian and wasn’t going to click through to the Guardian to find out. (Associating the words New and Scientist was just a joke, right?)

  11. ‘It fired the starting pistol for a dash to carve up the riches buried in space.’

    Yup, everyone was just waiting for Obama to say, “Go!”

    Powerful man, this Obama fellow.

  12. Bloke in Costa Rica

    The surface area of the Moon is slightly more than the areas of Africa and Australia combined. You could strip-mine it like a bastard for ten thousand years and not see the difference.

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