One Small Step: the Impact of the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015 on the Exploration of Resources in Outer Space

December 23, 2016

The United States Congress recently passed the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (“CSLCA”). Title IV of the Act ultimately recognized commercial property rights in resources extracted from extraterrestrial bodies. Consequently, the passage of such legislation has once again brought property rights in outer space to the forefront of legal discussion. Although some have said that the CSLCA directly conflicts with Article II of the Outer Space Treaty, the CSLCA should be seen as a valid interpretation of Article II given the numerous ambiguities inherent in the article itself. More importantly, the CSCLA acts as an incremental mechanism in the formation of international space law that, in turn, should eventually allow States to come to innovative and cooperative solutions to preserve the Article II regime amidst future commercial efforts in outer space.