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THE SPACE PIONEER ACT
by
Wayne N. White Jr.
SpaceBooster LLC
505-306-7863
wnwhite@spacebooster.com
The opinions presented ...
SPACE LAW: An Overview
• Most nations are party to the 1967 Outer Space
Treaty (OST). This Treaty:
– Prohibits territorial...
SPACE LAW: An Overview
• The Outer Space Treaty:
– Gives parties jurisdiction over their citizens, and space
objects on th...
SPACE LAW: An Overview
• The 1979 Moon Treaty bans real property rights
and heavily regulates resource appropriation, but
...
A Legal Regime for Private Space Activities:
General Approach
• The OST is a statement of general principles; more
detaile...
A Legal Regime for Private Space Activities:
General Approach
• In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) will permit
space-fare...
A Legal Regime for Private Space Activities:
General Approach
• A collaborative approach to space law will allow
the U.S. ...
A Legal Regime for Private Space Activities:
General Approach
• The United States can enact legislation that
provides ince...
A Legal Regime for Private Space Activities:
General Approach
• National legislation allows greater
consistency between sp...
A Legal Regime for Private Space Activities:
General Approach
• Objectives:
– To promote international cooperation and
col...
Elements of Prospective US Legislation:
Jurisdiction
• Update space jurisdiction statute
• Establish safety zones – protec...
Elements of Prospective US Legislation:
Jurisdiction
• Clarify jurisdiction of federal courts and executive
branch departm...
Elements of Prospective US Legislation:
Federal Courts’ Jurisdiction
• 3-year statute of limitations for personal injury a...
Elements of Prospective US Legislation:
Federal Courts’ Jurisdiction
• Expert must certify claim has validity within 60
da...
Elements of Prospective US Legislation:
Property Law
• Enact a form of real property rights without
territorial sovereignt...
Elements of Prospective US Legislation:
Property Law
• Invalidate prior real property claims not based on
jurisdiction ove...
Elements of Prospective US Legislation:
Property Law
• Claimants may perfect their claims and obtain deed
after 1 year
• D...
Elements of Prospective US Legislation:
Property Law
• Protect areas of historical, scientific and aesthetic
interest on c...
Elements of Prospective US Legislation:
Salvage Law
• Provides for both contract salvage and salvage in
emergency situatio...
Elements of Prospective US Legislation:
Mining Law
• Clarify that public and private entities can own
extracted resources ...
Elements of Prospective US Legislation:
Mining Law
• Protect mining investments – encourage
prospecting and mining by reco...
Elements of Prospective US Legislation:
Safety
• Establish space traffic control system
• Allocate frequency for emergency...
Elements of Prospective US Legislation:
Safety
• Private space operators must appoint Private Safety
Officer familiar with...
Elements of Prospective US Legislation:
Safety
• Protect the environment and prevent biological
contamination of Earth and...
Elements of Prospective US Legislation:
Intellectual Property
• 35 United States Code § 105, “Inventions in Outer
Space” a...
International Cooperation and Collaboration
• Consult like-minded nations regarding prospective
U.S. legislation, evaluate...
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The Space Pioneer Act

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Proposed space legislation: real property rights, mining law, salvage law, and other provisions to provide legal certainty and encourage commercial activities in outer space.

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The Space Pioneer Act

  1. 1. THE SPACE PIONEER ACT by Wayne N. White Jr. SpaceBooster LLC 505-306-7863 wnwhite@spacebooster.com The opinions presented herein are solely those of the author. © 2007, 2014 by Wayne N. White, Jr., all rights reserved.
  2. 2. SPACE LAW: An Overview • Most nations are party to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty (OST). This Treaty: – Prohibits territorial sovereignty • Nations cannot make territorial claims in space or on celestial bodies, and • Nations cannot grant or recognize private territorial claims – Requires parties to regulate national entities’ activities – Holds nations liable for damage caused by their entities in transit through airspace and in outer space
  3. 3. SPACE LAW: An Overview • The Outer Space Treaty: – Gives parties jurisdiction over their citizens, and space objects on their registry • Ownership of space objects is not affected by the objects’ presence in outer space (includes facilities constructed in outer space) • Ownership of personal property is not affected by its presence in outer space • Parties can enact national laws consistent with the Treaty and international law • Parties can enact a form of real property rights based on jurisdiction, even though territorial sovereignty is prohibited
  4. 4. SPACE LAW: An Overview • The 1979 Moon Treaty bans real property rights and heavily regulates resource appropriation, but only a handful of nations are party to this treaty (the U.S. and other space-faring nations are not parties).
  5. 5. A Legal Regime for Private Space Activities: General Approach • The OST is a statement of general principles; more detailed laws and regulations are required to govern private space activities • The U.N. Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) operates on basis of consensus. Result: it takes years to reach agreement, and treaties lack definition in order to achieve consensus
  6. 6. A Legal Regime for Private Space Activities: General Approach • In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) will permit space-farers to “live off the land,” greatly reducing the risk and cost of space activities • Over the long term, access to the resources of near- Earth space, Mars, and the asteroids is a matter of strategic concern for all nations
  7. 7. A Legal Regime for Private Space Activities: General Approach • A collaborative approach to space law will allow the U.S. to remain autonomous • The OST not only permits, but in some cases requires the United States to enact laws that are consistent with the OST, the U.N. Charter, and other principles of international law
  8. 8. A Legal Regime for Private Space Activities: General Approach • The United States can enact legislation that provides incentives for private activities and international collaboration • The United States can coordinate this effort with like-minded nations to promote international acceptance, cooperation, and collaboration
  9. 9. A Legal Regime for Private Space Activities: General Approach • National legislation allows greater consistency between space law and terrestrial laws • Property and mining laws can be based in part on existing U.S. Code statutes: the Deep Seabed Hard Mineral Resource Act, and the General Mining Act of 1872. • Minimal appropriations required; user fees would pay most costs
  10. 10. A Legal Regime for Private Space Activities: General Approach • Objectives: – To promote international cooperation and collaboration – To implement existing space treaties – To govern private space activities – To provide incentives for commercial space activities – To provide legal certainty & predictability for companies and their investors – To minimize litigation
  11. 11. Elements of Prospective US Legislation: Jurisdiction • Update space jurisdiction statute • Establish safety zones – protect facilities and areas of ongoing human activity • Delineate authority of private entities with respect to space objects and personnel
  12. 12. Elements of Prospective US Legislation: Jurisdiction • Clarify jurisdiction of federal courts and executive branch departments and agencies – Possible authorities: – Federal courts: litigation of all space disputes – DoS: registry of property and mining claims, and objects available for salvage, in conjunction with U.S. and UN registries of space objects – DoI or FAA/AST?: regulation & processing of property and mining claims – USAF: space traffic control
  13. 13. Elements of Prospective US Legislation: Federal Courts’ Jurisdiction • 3-year statute of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death claims • Legal presumption that all private citizens who travel into outer space have assumed the risk of serious injury or death • Claimants cannot recover unless they prove gross negligence or intentional wrongdoing
  14. 14. Elements of Prospective US Legislation: Federal Courts’ Jurisdiction • Expert must certify claim has validity within 60 days after filing lawsuit • Losing party must pay prevailing party’s attorney’s fees and costs
  15. 15. Elements of Prospective US Legislation: Property Law • Enact a form of real property rights without territorial sovereignty – This approach follows the precedent set by the 1980 Deep Seabed Hard Mineral Resources Act • Outer Space Treaty and other international laws provide bundle of rights analogous to property rights • Legislation formally defines and protects these rights
  16. 16. Elements of Prospective US Legislation: Property Law • Invalidate prior real property claims not based on jurisdiction over space objects and personnel (e.g. “Moon Deeds”) • Private entities must file preliminary claims which identify the location of their space activities • Entities may only claim the area encompassed by their space objects and ongoing activities, plus a safety zone
  17. 17. Elements of Prospective US Legislation: Property Law • Claimants may perfect their claims and obtain deed after 1 year • Deeds may be transferred in the same manner as terrestrial deeds • “Use it or lose it” regime – property rights terminate when there is no longer a presence
  18. 18. Elements of Prospective US Legislation: Property Law • Protect areas of historical, scientific and aesthetic interest on celestial bodies (e.g. Apollo 11 landing site) • Include reciprocity provisions recognizing other countries’ claims, if their laws are substantially the same as the U.S. law (see Deep Seabed Hard Mineral Resources Act)
  19. 19. Elements of Prospective US Legislation: Salvage Law • Provides for both contract salvage and salvage in emergency situations • If owner is no longer operating space object, it may identify it in the registry of space objects as available for salvage • If owner can no longer afford to operate facility/continue operations, Bankruptcy Trustee or Receiver can have property identified in registry as available for salvage
  20. 20. Elements of Prospective US Legislation: Mining Law • Clarify that public and private entities can own extracted resources – this is consistent with the majority opinion in the international space law community • Outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, shall be free for exploration and use by all States (OST Article 1, emphasis added)
  21. 21. Elements of Prospective US Legislation: Mining Law • Protect mining investments – encourage prospecting and mining by recognizing mining claims in a manner similar to the US General Mining Law – Prospectors who obtain non-public information regarding mineral resources may file provisional claims – Remote sensing and telepossession may provide basis for preliminary claim – Ice is a mineral – Prospectors may perfect claim and obtain deed once they begin mining operations
  22. 22. Elements of Prospective US Legislation: Safety • Establish space traffic control system • Allocate frequency for emergency communications • Establish position of government Safety Officer; central point of contact for space emergencies
  23. 23. Elements of Prospective US Legislation: Safety • Private space operators must appoint Private Safety Officer familiar with operation of all systems • Private Safety Officer has authority to make life- and-death decisions in an emergency; no liability except for intentional wrongdoing
  24. 24. Elements of Prospective US Legislation: Safety • Protect the environment and prevent biological contamination of Earth and other celestial bodies.
  25. 25. Elements of Prospective US Legislation: Intellectual Property • 35 United States Code § 105, “Inventions in Outer Space” applies U.S. patent code to inventions “made, used or sold in outer space” • Still need to formally extend U.S. copyright and trademark law to outer space
  26. 26. International Cooperation and Collaboration • Consult like-minded nations regarding prospective U.S. legislation, evaluate input, and revise U.S. legislation as necessary. • Encourage like-minded nations to enact similar laws that include reciprocity provisions. • Establish international interoperability standards for safety and servicing.

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