Property rights in space

Written December, 2013

Private companies are reinvigorating human space travel and in return at least one company seeks rights to mine the moon. Why stop with the moon when there’s the possibility of mining planets and other bodies? Asteroids are known to be rich in elements rare on earth such as platinum, iridium, and palladium and it has been estimated that one large metallic asteroid could yield $50 million worth of platinum. Property rights of outer space will increasingly become features in business plans and recently this aspect of Space Law has gained greater attention from legal firms and the American Bar Association. What rights do private companies have to outer space if they provide the primary, or even sole, means to reach it?



Introductory material: 

Space Law: Frequently Asked Questions (United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs)

Space Law 101: An Introduction to Space Law (American Bar Association)

Recent news on property rights in space: 

Moon Mining Rush Ahead? (National Geographic)

Who Has the Right to Mine an Asteroid? (Popular Mechanics)

Property Rights in Space (The New Atlantis)

Mining the Moon? Space Property Rights Still Unclear, Experts Say (

Private Property in Outer Space: The Other Side of the Argument (NBC News)

Moon Property Rights Would Help Create a Lunar Industry (

Is Now the Time to Start Working on Space Property Rights? (Space Politics)

Space Law: Is Asteroid Mining Legal? (Wired)

Lunar Property Rights (The Economist)

Mining Asteroids and Exploiting the New Space Economy (Wall Street Journal)

Property Rights In Space Still Unclear (International Business Times)

Who Owns The Moon? (New Republic)

Who Controls Real Estate on the Moon and Other Planets? (Newsweek)