[meteorite-list] House Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on ASTEROIDS Act on September 10

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Sun, 7 Sep 2014 19:22:53 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <201409080222.s882Mr94008951_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


House Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on ASTEROIDS Act on September 10
Marcia S. Smith

The Space Subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee
will hold a hearing next week on the ASTEROIDS Act, which was introduced
in July by Rep. Bill Posey (R- FL) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA).

The goal of the legislation is to establish and protect property rights
for commercial exploration and exploitation of asteroids. Two U.S. companies
promoting such activities are Planetary Resources, headquartered in Kilmer's
Redmond, WA district, and Deep Space Industries of Houston, TX. Posey's
district includes Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and NASA's Kennedy
Space Center.

Five witnesses have been announced for the hearing, four of whom are scientists
and one is a space lawyer. The scientists are:

  * Jim Green, Director of NASA's Planetary Science Division;
  * Phil Christensen, an Arizona State University (ASU) professor who
co-chairs the National Research Council's (NRC's) Committee on Astrobiology
and Planetary Science (CAPS) and was a member of the NRC's Decadal Survey
for planetary science;
  * Jim Bell, another ASU Professor who is President of the grass-roots
space advocacy group The Planetary Society; and
  * Mark Sykes, CEO and Director of the Tucson, AZ-based non-profit solar
system exploration advocacy group Planetary Science Institute.

The fifth witness is Joanne Gabrynowicz, an internationally recognized
space lawyer who for many years before her retirement headed the National
Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law at the University of Mississippi
and was editor of the Journal of Space Law. She is currently a member
of the NASA Advisory Council's Planetary Protection Subcommittee that
advises the agency on matters concerning the prevention of forward or
back contamination of solar system bodies.

The concept of mining asteroids involves many scientific, technical and
economic considerations, but property rights is a particularly thorny
issue. Under the 1967 U.N. Outer Space Treaty, there is no national sovereignty
in space so no country can "own" an asteroid. Pursuant to the treaty,
governments are responsible for the actions of their non-governmental
entities, such as a company, sparking debate over whether a company can
own an asteroid or any part of it. Without ownership rights to minerals
mined from asteroids, it is unlikely that companies would pursue asteroid
mining even if such an activity could prove to be otherwise feasible.
The ASTEROIDS Act would apply only to U.S. companies and seeks to ensure
that materials mined from an asteroid by a U.S. company are the property
of that company. It would not confer ownership of the asteroid itself.

The hearing is at 10:00 am ET on September 10, 2014 in 2318 Rayburn House
Office Building.


Note: the hearing will be webcast live here


Ron Baalke
Received on Sun 07 Sep 2014 10:22:53 PM PDT

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