Obama Gets Behind Asteroid Mining

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In another small step for asteroid mining, US President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill that allows US citizens to mine, sell and own any space material.

US President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill that allows US citizens to mine, sell and own any space material. That includes material found on asteroids, which companies like Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries are looking to mine.
The bill, signed Wednesday, is known as the “Space Resource Exploration and Utilization Act of 2015,” and its crucial paragraph is as follows:

A United States citizen engaged in commercial recovery of an asteroid resource or a space resource under this chapter shall be entitled to any asteroid resource or space resource obtained, including to possess, own, transport, use, and sell the asteroid resource or space resource obtained in accordance with applicable law, including the international obligations of the United States.

Gizmodo sums up the gist of the bill more simply, stating that essentially it puts in place a framework for “establishing property rights on a celestial body for mining purposes.” Notably, the “celestial body” itself can’t be claimed — just recovered material.
Furthermore, the bill lowers regulations on private spaceflight companies like the ones mentioned above. While they’re still accountable to the US Federal Aviation Administration, they now have to follow fewer regulations than the rest of the aviation industry.

Planetary Resources, perhaps the best-known company looking to mine asteroids, is certainly pleased. In a press release put out Wednesday, Co-Founder and Co-Chairman Eric Anderson said, “[t]his is the single greatest recognition of property rights in history. This legislation establishes the same supportive framework that created the great economies of history, and will encourage the sustained development of space.”
Peter H. Diamandis, also Co-Founder and Co-Chairman at Planetary Resources, was similarly positive. “A hundred years from now, humanity will look at this period in time as the point in which we were able to establish a permanent foothold in space. In history, there has never been a more rapid rate progress than right now,” he said.
Anderson is a leading figure in the space tourism industry, while Diamandis has gained much recognition for his work with Human Longevity. They’re just a few high-profile members of Planetary Resources’ management team, and the company has an impressive list of investors as well — filmmaker James Cameron, Google’s Larry Page and Virgin’s Richard Branson are just a few.
Whether their optimism is well placed remains to be seen — for many, asteroid mining still sounds like science fiction, and despite Obama’s move this week, it no doubt remains far in the future. However, with so many big players backing the idea, investors interested in the final frontier might want to keep an eye out for further developments.

Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
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