Who owns asteroids in outer space? What about if you go up and take a chunk out of one, who owns that bit? According to a newly signed law, you own whatever asteroid resources you manage to obtain—but it only applies if you’re a US citizen.
President Obama signed the US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act into law on 25 November 2015. Among other things, the Act essentially opens the prospect of asteroid mining up to commercial entities in the US. It states:
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.
The broader space community is, however, not completely enthusiastic about the US’s finders-keepers policy, with some experts claiming the new law may even be at odds with international space law.