In 2015, United States Congress passed H.R. 2262, a celestial “Finders Keepers” law, that grants U.S. citizens to legally claim natural resources mined in space. This law recognizes the right of U.S. citizens to own asteroid resources they obtain and encourages the commercial exploration and utilization of resources from asteroids.
Senator Rubio (R-FL) said, “Throughout our entire economy, we need to eliminate unnecessary regulations that cost too much and make it harder for American innovators to create jobs. The reforms included here make it easier for our innovators to return Americans to suborbital space and will help the American space industry continue pushing further into space than ever before. I’m proud the final bill includes proposals I had previously introduced in the Senate, including one related to commercial recovery of space resources. This bill is an important win for Florida’s space coast and the entire space exploration community.”
Senator Murray (D-WA) said, “I am glad that we’ve taken this important step forward to update our federal policies to make sure they work for innovative businesses creating jobs in Washington state. Washington state leads in so many ways, and I’m proud that local businesses are once again at the forefront of new industries that will help our economy continue to grow.”
Chairman Smith (R-TX) said, “The natural resources of our Solar System have great potential to facilitate and support our human endeavors, both in outer space and on Earth. Commercial space companies in the United States are making significant investments to develop technical capabilities that will allow us to explore and use outer space resources. This bill enables this new industry and provides guidance for future entrepreneurs.”
Congressman Posey (R-FL) said, “This bipartisan, bicameral legislation is a landmark for American leadership in space exploration. Recognizing basic legal protections in space will help pave the way for exciting future commercial space endeavors. Asteroids and other objects in space are excellent potential sources of rare minerals and other resources that can be used to manufacture a wide range of products here on Earth and to support future space exploration missions. Americans willing to invest in space mining operations need legal certainty that they can keep the fruits of their labor, and this bill provides that certainty.”
Congressman Kilmer (D-WA) said, “The commercial space industry in Washington state is leading the way in developing the cutting edge technology necessary to support human space exploration. The U. S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act will give these ventures the framework they need to continue to innovate, and to keep the United States at the head of this growing, global industry.”
TITLE IV—SPACE RESOURCE EXPLORATION AND UTILIZATION
SEC. 401. SHORT TITLE.
This title may be cited as the ‘‘Space Resource Exploration and Utilization Act of 2015’’.
SEC. 402. TITLE 51 AMENDMENT.
(a) IN GENERAL.—Subtitle V is amended by adding at the end the following:
‘‘CHAPTER 513—SPACE RESOURCE COMMERCIAL EXPLORATION AND UTILIZATION
‘‘51302. Commercial exploration and commercial recovery.
‘‘51303. Asteroid resource and space resource rights.
‘‘§ 51301. Definitions
‘‘In this chapter:
‘‘(1) ASTEROID RESOURCE.—The term ‘asteroid resource’ means a space resource found on or within a single asteroid.
‘‘(2) SPACE RESOURCE.—
‘‘(A) IN GENERAL.—The term ‘space resource’ means an abiotic resource in situ in outer space.
‘‘(B) INCLUSIONS.—The term ‘space resource’ includes water and minerals.
‘‘(3) UNITED STATES CITIZEN.—The term ‘United States citizen’ has the meaning given the term ‘citizen of the United States’ in section 50902.
‘‘§ 51302. Commercial exploration and commercial recovery
‘‘(a) IN GENERAL.—The President, acting through appropriate Federal agencies, shall—
‘‘(1) facilitate commercial exploration for and commercial recovery of space resources by United States citizens;
‘‘(2) discourage government barriers to the development in the United States of economically viable, safe, and stable industries for commercial exploration for and commercial recovery of space resources in manners consistent with the international obligations of the United States; and
‘‘(3) promote the right of United States citizens to engage in commercial exploration for and commercial recovery of space resources free from harmful interference, in accordance with the international obligations of the United States and subject to authorization and continuing supervision by the Federal Government.
‘‘(b) REPORT.—Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this section, the President shall submit to Congress a report on commercial exploration for and commercial recovery of space resources by United States citizens that specifies—
‘‘(1) the authorities necessary to meet the international obligations of the United States, including authorization and continuing supervision by the Federal Government; and
“(2) recommendations for the allocation of responsibilities among Federal agencies for the activities described in paragraph (1).
‘‘§ 51303. Asteroid resource and space resource rights
‘‘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.’’.
(b) TABLE OF CHAPTERS.—The table of chapters for title 51 is amended by adding at the end of the items for subtitle V the following:
‘‘513. Space resource commercial exploration and utilization …………….. 51301’’.
SEC. 403. DISCLAIMER OF EXTRATERRITORIAL SOVEREIGNTY.
It is the sense of Congress that by the enactment of this Act, the United States does not thereby assert sovereignty or sovereign or exclusive rights or jurisdiction over, or the ownership of, any celestial body.