It's only a matter of time before mankind ventures off to possibly pursing a life in space. While we will have to mine for natural resources in our solar system, the House of Representatives passed a bill that says private companies would own the rights to these resources in space.

The Space Act of 2015 was passed by the House in May and is currently waiting for the Senate's decision. If the bill passes, asteroid mining companies would own the rights to the minerals they extract.

The bill says that the space resources that are extracted would belong to the company who leads the extraction and would allow these companies to sue those who interfere in a harmful way in their venture. The companies themselves must also "avoid causing harmful interference in outer space."

Two companies, Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries, currently have plans to mine asteroids that will be delivered back to Earth. However, there are some roadblocks the companies will need to overcome. The first is the fact that the technology required for space mining still needs to be fully developed and the second is the Outer Space Treaty — which states that nations cannot own territory in space, and instead, space exploration should be free. The United States is one of the nations that has signed the treaty.

The bill might still be passed since the Space Act of 2015 prohibits territorial sovereignty in space, not specifically private companies.

While the Space Act of 2015 might allow private asteroid mining companies property rights in space, if the Senate cannot make a decision by the end of this month or sometime shortly after September, then the Federal Aviation Administration will be given permission to start regulating commercial spaceflight. This is worrisome for those who believe the industry still needs time to flourish.

If the bill is passed this fall by the Senate, its fate then falls into the hands of President Obama, who can either approve it as a law or veto it.

Via: Popular Science

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