Senate Votes To Legalize Asteroid Mining, Ban Alien Slavery

REUTERS/NASA/Kjell Lindgren/Handout via Reuters

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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The Senate passed a bill Tuesday legalizing asteroid mining and banning the enslavement of aliens, showing us all that we live in the future.

The Senate passed the bill Tuesday with unanimous approval and relatively few amendments. The Senate’s amendments notably mean that a company cannot own extraterrestrial aliens. A previous version of the bill passed the House in May by a vote of 284 to 133 with significant bipartisan support.

Under the bill, companies would have property rights to the resources they extract from asteroids, such as platinum and water (which is a valuable resource in space). Experts at think tanks routinely noted the lack of legal recognition of property rights in space as one of the major road blocks to the development of space-based industries.

“This bill will keep America at the forefront of aerospace technology, create jobs, reduce red tape, promote safety, and inspire the next generation of explorers.” said Congressman [crscore]Lamar Smith[/crscore], the Chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee in a press release.

Two companies, Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries, are openly planning to mine asteroids. Planetary Resources has already launched a simple test vehicle into low Earth orbit. The company has already sent a letter thanking Congress for passing the legislation.

Previously, the Outer Space Treaty declared that no nation could own property in space. The wording of the treaty is vague enough that companies want to ensure they’ll own the resources they mine from asteroids before investing. The bill Congress passed would make those property rights official, at least under U.S. law.

The recent successes of private companies such as SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Bigelow Aerospace have encouraged a wave of investment in space.

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