The Other Space Race: Some Law and Economics of Celestial Resource Appropriation
25 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2018 Last revised: 23 Mar 2018
Date Written: March 18, 2018
Private companies are growing in importance relative to governments in outer space. In the coming decades, commercial interests will play a significant role in shaping the space environment. To what extent is this increased commercial presence conducive to human welfare? This article explores this question from the perspective of law and economics, focusing on the incentives for the appropriation of celestial resources by private parties. The paper highlights the conditions under which private appropriation of celestial resources is likely to be wealth-destroying, and under what conditions it is likely to be wealth-creating. The paper concludes by discussing what nation-states ought to do in light of the promises and perils of private celestial commerce.
Keywords: Asteroid mining, first possession, space law, space policy
JEL Classification: A12, F53, K33, Q32, P14
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