In the current issue of the journal Space Policy, Fabio Tronchetti (Harbin Institute of Technology, China) presents a legal analysis of the „Space Resource Exploration and Utilization Act“ that has recently been endorsed by the US Senate. This Act allows private companies to mine and utilize asteroid resources for commercial purposes and has already been criticized.
Tronchetti lists several aspects of the Act that contradict international law and warns: „It is unrealistic to imagine that other States, especially those actively engaged in the exploration of the Moon, such as China, would passively accept such development. Instead, it is more realistic to foresee that these States will react not only by demanding clarification to the United States in appropriate diplomatic fora but also by enacting national legislation similar to the Space Exploration and Utilization. The presence of a multitude of national legislation and approaches regulating extraterrestrial mining would likely enhance the risk of disagreements and tensions among those engaged in this kind of activity.“
So it seems that by pushing ahead with this Act the USA once again increase international conflict instead of settling differences. Tronchetti concludes: „The utilization of celestial bodies resources holds potentially significant economic and technological rewards. One can only hope that such an exciting venture will be undertaken by States in a cooperative and coordinate manner without undermining the fragile equilibrium that exists in space.“