Development of the Natural Resources of the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies: Economic and Legal Aspects
Posted: 16 Nov 2014
Date Written: 2008
The path of gradual commercialization of current space applications, such as launch services, satellite communication services, direct broadcasting services, satellite remote sensing and navigation services, and satellite weather monitoring services, will most likely be followed by future activities of use of space resources. Ventures, like mining the natural resources of the Moon and asteroids, are likely to become technologically feasible in the near future. The question is what would be the most appropriate approach to address the future needs of exploitation of space resources: should it remain the exclusive province of state governments; should the private sector take over such space activities; or should a public-private partnership type of venture be encouraged? As state governments are becoming constrained by budget deficits, an increased reliance on private sector involvement in space activities involving the extraction and use of space resources is to be expected. When deciding whether to invest in commercial ventures of resource use exploitation, any potential private investor will be faced with the issues of economic costs, risks, and perceived regulatory barriers. This study argues that the perceived regulatory barriers, i.e., the licensing requirement, the "common heritage of mankind" principle of international space law, and protection of intellectual property rights, are not obstacles to economic development. Governments should provide both policy and regulatory incentives for private sector participation in the area of space natural resource use by funding basic research and development and by sponsoring liability insurance for private ventures among other incentives.
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