Associate Dean and Professor Mark Sundahl was quoted in the October issue of California Lawyer regarding the need to clarify the right of companies to assert ownership over natural resources extracted from asteroids and other celestial bodies. At least two companies, Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries, are currently intending to mine precious metals from near-Earth asteroids. NASA is also planning to capture an asteroid and place it into orbit around the Moon in order to test technology for the redirection and mining of asteroids. An excerpt from the article follows. The full article, entitled Yours, Mine and Ours, can be found here.
“You can’t ask for property rights, because those are prohibited,” says Mark Sundahl, associate dean and professor at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. “So instead, you might ask for the right of noninterference.” But Sundahl adds, “At some point, we’re going to have to address the ownership of natural resources. A company like Planetary Resources isn’t going to invest billions of dollars prospecting for precious metals on an asteroid without clear legal title to ownership.”