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#1 2011-12-23 13:22:42

Terraformer
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From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,108
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The Outer Space Treaty

http://www.state.gov/www/global/arms/tr … pace1.html

How will this affect attempts to colonise space? Would a company wishing to, say, develop Lunar fuel resources have to register in a country which is not a signatory? Presumably, the treaty is only binding on countries which have signed and ratified it (and not all have). I'm certain there will be quite a few island nations that will be happy to have millions of pounds pumped into their economy, although powerful countries such as America could make trouble for any company which offers launch services from it... or any organisation which wishes to buy fuel from the Lunar Development Corporation.

Aaargh, why did the "international community" have to screw everyone over?
If it wasn't for them we'd have no nuke ban
We'd have cities on Mars and still have Project Rover
When I finally get up there I'll be a wanted fan.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#2 2011-12-23 16:30:30

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,938

Re: The Outer Space Treaty

Terraformer wrote:

http://www.state.gov/www/global/arms/tr … pace1.html

How will this affect attempts to colonise space? Would a company wishing to, say, develop Lunar fuel resources have to register in a country which is not a signatory? Presumably, the treaty is only binding on countries which have signed and ratified it (and not all have). I'm certain there will be quite a few island nations that will be happy to have millions of pounds pumped into their economy, although powerful countries such as America could make trouble for any company which offers launch services from it... or any organisation which wishes to buy fuel from the Lunar Development Corporation.

Aaargh, why did the "international community" have to screw everyone over?
If it wasn't for them we'd have no nuke ban
We'd have cities on Mars and still have Project Rover
When I finally get up there I'll be a wanted fan.


This was discussed on another thread recently.  I see no problem with a signatory nation authorising a corporation to exploit resources on the Moon. The main problem is that it will be difficult to create land ownership rights. But there are plenty of examples on Earth of resources being exploited in the absence of land ownership rights e.g. there used to be whaling stations on Antarctica.


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#3 2011-12-23 17:18:35

Grypd
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From: Scotland, Europe
Registered: 2004-06-07
Posts: 1,847

Re: The Outer Space Treaty

The outer space treaty is an international treaty which has a very high sign up rate and of course in the purpose it was designed for completely succesful. Its purpose was to allow freedom to explore without the buildup of weapon systems which everyone was worried about. You have to remember this was the time of planned nuclear armed missiles bases on the Moon.

It is one of the Common heritage treaties that are almost defacto international law. Its purpose of stopping an arms race and a great space land rush in space and the tensions of that and the way it was worded has made it not compatible for those who wish mankind to expand beyond the Earth. And as it is a universal treaty it is one which will affect any space mission and it will not matter if you launch from a non signatory as it is highly likely that the pressure to follow the rules will let you prevail.

Still I think that if we can get the political will it is possible to allow resource exploitation if we change the treaty but still follow its spirit. One thing we have to get sorted is space debris and actions to resolve this and we use the part of the treaty about how missions are in effect permanently belonging to the nation that owns it. So if we have to go back to the treaty to resolve the debris issue why not subtly change other parts.

Currently the treaty states that no nation or organisation may claim land but it does not specifically state that we cannot exploit resources there. So if can develop a means of utilisation without claiming the land but that if using that area you cannot be interfered with in a common courtesy zone and the products you gain belong to the nation that mined it but the land it was gained from remains for all mankind our problems with the treaty will be solved. Mostly!!!

We will not get any of the major powers to withdraw from this treaty like all common heritage treaties there are very powerful vested interests to ensure these treaties remain. So we have to change the treaties to get a better result but still keep the spirit.


Chan eil mi aig a bheil ùidh ann an gleidheadh an status quo; Tha mi airson cur às e.

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#4 2011-12-23 17:43:57

Terraformer
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From: Lancashire
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Posts: 3,108
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Re: The Outer Space Treaty

Hmmm, but I still hope we can Munchkin away the problems without having to go to all that effort... if the treaty won't change, and so international law remains diametrically opposed to space colonisation, we may have to, ah, become "wanted fans" and colonise the universe without the backing of the homeworld (note: this means a lot of steam- and atompunk). As soon as the colonies reach an appropriate level (Lunar mining, basic spacecraft production, farms, and most importantly, families), we may need to fire our rockets, premature as they are, to survive the legs being kicked out from under us by an oppressive Terran government. We could hopefully get most of the infrastructure up their by stealth, and not just personal allowances - the University will need to be well stocked with tools to "repair" it's Lunar transports, as will the hotel, and the retirement home will need a very good hospital I'd think. The place will of course need to be self sufficient in the bare necessities. Just how much can we stretch the treaty before it snaps back?

Now, anyone know which billionaires would invest in such a venture that will probably fail from a business standpoint but hopefully prevail in it's true mission?


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#5 2011-12-23 20:00:34

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,938

Re: The Outer Space Treaty

Terraformer wrote:

Hmmm, but I still hope we can Munchkin away the problems without having to go to all that effort... if the treaty won't change, and so international law remains diametrically opposed to space colonisation, we may have to, ah, become "wanted fans" and colonise the universe without the backing of the homeworld (note: this means a lot of steam- and atompunk). As soon as the colonies reach an appropriate level (Lunar mining, basic spacecraft production, farms, and most importantly, families), we may need to fire our rockets, premature as they are, to survive the legs being kicked out from under us by an oppressive Terran government. We could hopefully get most of the infrastructure up their by stealth, and not just personal allowances - the University will need to be well stocked with tools to "repair" it's Lunar transports, as will the hotel, and the retirement home will need a very good hospital I'd think. The place will of course need to be self sufficient in the bare necessities. Just how much can we stretch the treaty before it snaps back?

Now, anyone know which billionaires would invest in such a venture that will probably fail from a business standpoint but hopefully prevail in it's true mission?

I have absolutely no doubt that a lunar development will be wildly profitable.

I think there is every prospect of a billionaire funding such a venture. Well Richard Branson is getting close with Virgin Galactic.   

Lunar tourism will generate billions of dollars of revenue.


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#6 2011-12-23 20:32:56

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
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Posts: 16,198

Re: The Outer Space Treaty

I do think that man will some day look beyound the greed and actually go to the stars but until we put aside the value of a dollar for knowledge we will not be there.
So say we do come up with a means to build cheat rockets and get building the processing plants on the moon for the valued minerals what profits are there to be had when a surplus of these flood the market. I think the price will drop faster than the rocket speed it took to get us there.
Sure we will want to send some to earth but it would be of a better benifit to man to use them in space for the future....

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#7 2011-12-24 02:24:28

Terraformer
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From: Lancashire
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Posts: 3,108
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Re: The Outer Space Treaty

Louis, practicality and legality are two different things. It could be profitable - but only if the government lets it, which may not be the case...

The trouble is, countries are liable for any mission launched from their territory - if a dodgy rocket from Australia hits New Zealand, Australia get's sued, rather than the company involved. This also would imply that resources appropriated by a company would be considered to have been appropriated by the country it is registered in, which isn't allowed. Possibly. I'll have to look into this.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#8 2011-12-24 06:14:50

louis
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From: UK
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Posts: 4,938

Re: The Outer Space Treaty

Terraformer wrote:

Louis, practicality and legality are two different things. It could be profitable - but only if the government lets it, which may not be the case...

The trouble is, countries are liable for any mission launched from their territory - if a dodgy rocket from Australia hits New Zealand, Australia get's sued, rather than the company involved. This also would imply that resources appropriated by a company would be considered to have been appropriated by the country it is registered in, which isn't allowed. Possibly. I'll have to look into this.

I dealt with these objections on the other thread - Space X or whoever can register with one of the smaller signatory countries (say Panama or Liberia - places that already provide flags of convenience for ships) and idemnify them with a bond for which commercial rates would be made. The bond fee might be $100M per annum but a lunar tourism project could cover that easily. The real risk of public idemnity from conventional rocket launches (as opposed to satellites or the flawed Space Shuttle) must be close to zero I would say. It's not like the early days of rocket launchs. As long as you are launching them over the sea, the risk is very small and private insurers would be willing to take on the risk.

Appropriation of resources is quite different from a claim to ownership of the land surface.


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#9 2011-12-24 07:03:32

Terraformer
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From: Lancashire
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Posts: 3,108
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Re: The Outer Space Treaty

Louis, the worry is not the a launch will go awry; I was simply using that example to demonstrate that international law only recognises states, not corporations. Incidentally, we won't be able to launch from non-American territory that easily if using an American launch system, thanks to the delusion the US government have that they actually have any technological advantage anymore (see ITAR). So SpaceX is out if we go down that route, unless Congress actual wishes to protect American jobs...

The worry is that some annoying little state will turn up and, just to be spiteful, claim that the Lunar project violates international law, because "the Moon is the common heritage of all Mankind". Or demand that the profits are parceled out to all 193 nations of the UN.

Ever wondered why no-one's colonised Antarctica yet?


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#10 2011-12-24 07:39:33

Grypd
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From: Scotland, Europe
Registered: 2004-06-07
Posts: 1,847

Re: The Outer Space Treaty

Sea launch is a consortium that has Norwegian, Russian and of course US companies that make up its shareholders.

It launches Zenit 3SL rockets manufactured in the Ukraine.

But for international law it is an agency of the United states and completely under its laws. That is the law and it does not matter that it is a private buisness concern where that company is registered makes part of that goverment.

In space it is considered to be acting as an agency of the US goverment.


Chan eil mi aig a bheil ùidh ann an gleidheadh an status quo; Tha mi airson cur às e.

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#11 2012-04-25 14:12:51

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,938

Re: The Outer Space Treaty

Terraformer wrote:

Louis, practicality and legality are two different things. It could be profitable - but only if the government lets it, which may not be the case...

The trouble is, countries are liable for any mission launched from their territory - if a dodgy rocket from Australia hits New Zealand, Australia get's sued, rather than the company involved. This also would imply that resources appropriated by a company would be considered to have been appropriated by the country it is registered in, which isn't allowed. Possibly. I'll have to look into this.

I think we've been through that before - satellites are insurable. I think that there are ways of providing bonds and so on to satisfy a treaty state.


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#12 2012-04-25 14:16:14

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,938

Re: The Outer Space Treaty

Grypd wrote:

Sea launch is a consortium that has Norwegian, Russian and of course US companies that make up its shareholders.

It launches Zenit 3SL rockets manufactured in the Ukraine.

But for international law it is an agency of the United states and completely under its laws. That is the law and it does not matter that it is a private buisness concern where that company is registered makes part of that goverment.

In space it is considered to be acting as an agency of the US goverment.

I think it is too strong to say it is acting as an agent of the US government. The treaty makes the treaty state the guarantor for the company's actions would be a better way of putting it I think.


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#13 2012-04-25 16:26:43

Terraformer
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From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,108
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Re: The Outer Space Treaty

Louis, the issue isn't worries about damages on Terra - that aspect has already been dealt with. The problem with the treaty is that it's not clear yet whether making a profit from space resources will actually be allowed - tourism, yes, but mining?

The OST contains elements of both Maritime law and the Antarctic treaty, and decisions there set the precedence. My worry is that a small spiteful nation, of which there are many, would attempt to block any attempts to make money unless they get "their" share of the profits.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#14 2012-04-26 07:45:47

Glandu
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From: France
Registered: 2011-11-23
Posts: 106

Re: The Outer Space Treaty

IMHO, as noone can enforce the treaty, it has no value. Once someone will be able to rule deep space, then & only then, the law will make sense.


"I promise not to exclude from consideration any idea based on its source, but to consider ideas across schools and heritages in order to find the ones that best suit the current situation." (Alistair Cockburn, Oath of Non-Allegiance)

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#15 2012-04-26 08:33:32

Terraformer
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From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,108
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Re: The Outer Space Treaty

But they can enforce the treaty. Only when a self-sufficient offworld colony is established will it become unenforceble.

They don't have to stop your spacecraft landing if they can stop them launching, nor do they have to stop you mining if they can stop you selling the mined material.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#16 2012-05-12 14:33:15

RickLewis
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From: London
Registered: 2012-05-12
Posts: 8
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Re: The Outer Space Treaty

A bunch of space entrepreneurs recently announced that they were going to collaborate on a long-term private project of mining asteroids. If they should by any chance succeed, are they going to need permits from some authority under the Outer Space Treaty? If they don't get such a permit, are they going to get sued? Or is it okay because they aren't a government?

If they end up actually making some money, where will their profits be taxed? big_smile

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#17 2012-05-12 15:56:16

Terraformer
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From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,108
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Re: The Outer Space Treaty

There profits will, I imagine, be taxed in the country of registration... unless the UN votes that they have to give all the counties an equal share of the profits under the outer space treaty, which is a possibility...


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#18 2012-05-12 16:22:29

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,938

Re: The Outer Space Treaty

If I was involved with the company, I think I would pledge a percentage to go to the UN and international charities, to fulfil that part of the treaty which speaks of the exploration and use of outer space having to be "carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries".   

Note the treaty does NOT say it has to be "wholly" for the benefit and in the interests of all countries NOR does it say it has to be for their EQUAL benefit etc.  However, pledging a certain percentage of profit - say 20% - would make clear that this was meeting the requirements of the treaty.


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#19 2012-05-12 16:43:38

Grypd
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From: Scotland, Europe
Registered: 2004-06-07
Posts: 1,847

Re: The Outer Space Treaty

It is a strong possibility.

Lets be honest here there will be interests that will force the UN to get involved in any mining in space no matter the object as a target.

Still with these multi billionaires there is now pressure to get the outer space and the moon treaty changed to a much more useful function.

Im in favour of a treaty that has allowance to utilise materials not for the common good but common courtesy that means you dont interfere with others and vice versa and the materials you gain can then be used


Chan eil mi aig a bheil ùidh ann an gleidheadh an status quo; Tha mi airson cur às e.

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#20 2012-05-13 13:26:38

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,938

Re: The Outer Space Treaty

Grypd wrote:

It is a strong possibility.

Lets be honest here there will be interests that will force the UN to get involved in any mining in space no matter the object as a target.

Still with these multi billionaires there is now pressure to get the outer space and the moon treaty changed to a much more useful function.

Im in favour of a treaty that has allowance to utilise materials not for the common good but common courtesy that means you dont interfere with others and vice versa and the materials you gain can then be used


They definitely do need revision but in some ways it is better for the moment to have some poor treaties in place.  I can't really see any good coming from revision of the treaties at the moment.

Would be best if a Consortia got established on the Moon and Mars first.  Then any new treaties must make some allowance for self-government.

Essentially what we want from such treaties is the following:

1. Non-militarisation.

2. Allowing all countries on Earth a chance to participate in the exploration of space.

3. Provision for land use.

4. Provision for self-governance.

5. Some agreement over distribution of profits.


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#21 2012-05-13 20:53:11

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 16,198

Re: The Outer Space Treaty

While we do want the insitu materials for permanent settlement we do not want to exhaust them through export or to the point of creating instability to the location that we colonize either as in possibly destroying of the place....

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#22 2012-05-15 05:04:24

RickLewis
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Re: The Outer Space Treaty

I suppose this is the most relevant paragraph from the treaty (copied from the link provided by the OP):

Article VIII
A State Party to the Treaty on whose registry an object launched into outer space is carried shall retain jurisdiction and control over such object, and over any personnel thereof, while in outer space or on a celestial body. Ownership of objects launched into outer space, including objects landed or constructed on a celestial body, and of their component parts, is not affected by their presence in outer space or on a celestial body or by their return to the Earth. Such objects or component parts found beyond the limits of the State Party to the Treaty on whose registry they are carried shall be returned to that State Party, which shall, upon request, furnish identifying data prior to their return.

It seems clear that a US registered corporation (for instance) could go to the Moon, make stuff there and ship it back to Earth, without this being a problem under the Outer Space Treaty. The stuff manufactured on the Moon would still belong to the company, and subject to US laws, and the US Government would be responsible throughout for ensuring that the corporation's activities were in accordance with the Outer Space Treaty.

I'm not entirely sure it takes into account asteroid mining, though. If some precious metal is mined from an asteroid and brought back to Earth, then it isn't exactly something "constructed on a celestial body", is it? It's ownership is unclear under this treaty, except for the treaty sections about the exploration of space being equally for the benefit of all nations.

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#23 2012-05-15 14:26:30

Mark Friedenbach
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From: Mountain View, CA
Registered: 2003-01-31
Posts: 308

Re: The Outer Space Treaty

An asteroid is a celestial object.

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#24 2012-05-15 21:23:44

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 16,198

Re: The Outer Space Treaty

History of what was:

On June 16, 1966, both the United States and the Soviet Union submitted draft treaties. The U.S. draft dealt only with celestial bodies; the Soviet draft covered the whole outer space environment. The United States accepted the Soviet position on the scope of the Treaty, and by September agreement had been reached in discussions at Geneva on most Treaty provisions. Differences on the few remaining issues -- chiefly involving access to facilities on celestial bodies, reporting on space activities, and the use of military equipment and personnel in space exploration -- were satisfactorily resolved in private consultations during the General Assembly session by December.

On the 19th of that month the General Assembly approved by acclamation a resolution commending the Treaty. It was opened for signature at Washington, London, and Moscow on January 27, 1967. On April 25 the Senate gave unanimous consent to its ratification, and the Treaty entered into force on October 10, 1967.

But what did the US do on 20, 1969, at 20:17:39 UTC http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_11

Buzz_salutes_the_U.S._Flag.jpg

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#25 2012-05-16 06:28:28

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,938

Re: The Outer Space Treaty

RickLewis wrote:

I suppose this is the most relevant paragraph from the treaty (copied from the link provided by the OP):

Article VIII
A State Party to the Treaty on whose registry an object launched into outer space is carried shall retain jurisdiction and control over such object, and over any personnel thereof, while in outer space or on a celestial body. Ownership of objects launched into outer space, including objects landed or constructed on a celestial body, and of their component parts, is not affected by their presence in outer space or on a celestial body or by their return to the Earth. Such objects or component parts found beyond the limits of the State Party to the Treaty on whose registry they are carried shall be returned to that State Party, which shall, upon request, furnish identifying data prior to their return.

It seems clear that a US registered corporation (for instance) could go to the Moon, make stuff there and ship it back to Earth, without this being a problem under the Outer Space Treaty. The stuff manufactured on the Moon would still belong to the company, and subject to US laws, and the US Government would be responsible throughout for ensuring that the corporation's activities were in accordance with the Outer Space Treaty.

I'm not entirely sure it takes into account asteroid mining, though. If some precious metal is mined from an asteroid and brought back to Earth, then it isn't exactly something "constructed on a celestial body", is it? It's ownership is unclear under this treaty, except for the treaty sections about the exploration of space being equally for the benefit of all nations.

I think you are missing the point. There is nothing in the treaty outlawing asteroid mining, which is clearly an acitivity undertaken for a  peaceful purpose.  PLacing a nuclear warhead missile on an asteroid would however be clearly outlawed under the treaty, as would declaring an asteroid to be the property of the USA or Space X or any other entity (except, arguably, a self-governing entity on a celestial body).


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