According to the BBC, private companies like Planetary Resources want to turn asteroids into filling stations for spaceships. Asteroids could provide water and oxygen for crews as well as hydrogen for fuel. While the idea makes sense — currently a spacecraft has to carry everything it needs from the start — it may meet stiff international opposition.
Unfortunately, strict legislation in the form of the 1966 United Nations' Outer Space Treaty already prohibits national appropriation of space resources. Basically, mining the moon is legally off limits.
But, experts say mining asteroids - particularly for resources which could remain in space - falls into a legal grey area unconceived of by legislators four decades ago.
As the commercial space industry grows, with billions of dollars already invested, entrepreneurs argue they should be able to own what they find. The costs are simply too great to risk having their discoveries taken from them by governments or competitors.
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