Asteroid Mining: The Future of Resource Harvesting
School of Law, CHRIST (Deemed to be University), Bangalore, India.
Volume II – Issue III, 2020
Scare resources on earth have increased the desire of human beings to upsurge. As a result of this and the rapid development in technology, exploration of outer space for potential reserves of natural resources has been accelerating. Asteroids, which are rocky objects between the planet belt of Mars and Jupiter are known to be composed of precious metals like platinum, cobalt and gold among others. Research on procuring these resources from outer space is advancing. This was mainly put forth with the idea of balancing the ever-increasing need for resources and to reduce the environmental degradation during the process of extraction of these elements on earth. However, the issues arise with respect to the cost effectiveness, financial viability, distribution of resources among countries and proprietary rights over these resources extracted from space. A major concern is the applicability of laws and legal principles that govern such activity in outer space. At present, even though the theory of common heritage of mankind over the resources is accepted, there is no prohibition or restriction on the extraction or investment by private entities in extracting it. Therefore, the liability of the entities who extract these resources and its equitable distribution thereof must be determined.
This paper sheds light on various aspects of asteroid mining and the emerging trends from the lens of legal reasoning and jurisprudence. It seeks to provide an insight into the impact and the legal liabilities owing to environment, economic and property concerns of extraterritorial mining. Further it also analyses the implication of privatization of asteroid mining and its financial viability. The article provides suggestions that can be brought through the law for optimizing the distribution of these resources in order to bridge the gap between developing and developed nations.
The research methodology adopted is doctrinal.
Keywords: asteroids, extraterritorial mining, outer space, privatization, resources