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Biological Theory

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 142–151 | Cite as

Private Property Rights and the Public Interest in Exploration of Outer Space

Thematic Issue Article: Astrobiology

Abstract

The impending missions to exploit natural resources of celestial bodies may at some point start interfering with the scientific interests, including those of astrobiology, in these bodies. While the legal status of celestial bodies at the highest level is clear, uncertainty has arisen as to the extent private property rights over such objects or over their resources are legally acceptable, legally impossible, or potentially legal. This also provides for a considerable amount of uncertainty regarding how the legal framework could or may need to be changed to accommodate private interests. The article analyzes the two main international treaties relevant from this perspective, as well as their backgrounds, in order to outline the current legal status of celestial bodies and the resulting legal rights and obligations pertinent to both private exploitation and exploration. Based on such an analysis, it concludes by highlighting an approach that could actually incentivize the private sector and the science community to work together in a manner conducive to their interests in exploitation and exploration respectively.

Keywords

Celestial bodies Global commons Moon Agreement Natural resource exploitation Outer Space Treaty Private property rights Public international law Scientific exploration 

References

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Copyright information

© Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of LawUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA

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