Legal Challenges and the Concept of the Commons in Commercial Space Mining: A Need for Uniformity in International Space Law

  • Rohan Vasanth and Vaishnav S.
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  • Rohan Vasanth

    Student at School of Law, CHRIST (Deemed to be University), Bengaluru, India

  • Vaishnav S.

    Student at School of Law, CHRIST (Deemed to be University), Bengaluru, India

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The Outer Space Treaty of 1967, ratified by more than 100 nations, stipulates in Article II that space is not a national resource and should only be utilised for peaceful purposes. As a result, the legal environment for commercial space mining activities becomes complicated, necessitating coordination and collaboration among several nations and international organisations. The consideration of space as a commons is a crucial component of regulating commercial space mining. This consideration has given rise to the notion that space should be viewed as a common heritage of mankind, raising concerns about ownership and exploitation of space resources. The consequences of considering space as a commons for commercial space mining are examined in this paper, along with any possible conflicts that could develop between companies and states. Defining commercial space mining is an essential component of this research paper. Commercial space mining involves the extraction and processing of resources from celestial bodies for profit. This paper examines the many resources that could be extracted, such as water, metals, and rare earth elements, as well as the benefits and hazards of doing so commercially. The Outer Space Treaty does not explicitly address the issue of commercial mining of space resources, such as asteroids or lunar regolith. This has led to legal uncertainty and controversy over the rights and obligations of states and private actors in this domain. Some states, such as the United States and Luxembourg, have enacted national laws granting property rights to citizens or companies that extract or appropriate space resources. Other states, such as Russia and China, have opposed this approach and argued that it violates the Treaty and the principle of the common heritage of mankind. The Artemis Accords, too, while not binding, establish that when nations engage in mining activities on the moon, they do not obtain property rights over the extracted materials. The paper examines the application of international conventions vis-a-vis regional laws related to commercial space mining. The paper adopts a doctrinal method of research based on secondary sources along with regional case studies involving leading companies worldwide in the field of Space Mining. In conclusion, this paper underscores the need for uniformity in international law relating to commercial space mining for legal clarity and certainty, a concrete dispute resolution mechanism, fair competition, environment protection and equitable distribution of profits. The paper also recommends that international organisations, such as the United Nations or a specialised agency, should develop and oversee such laws in consultation and cooperation with states and private actors.


Research Paper


International Journal of Law Management and Humanities, Volume 7, Issue 2, Page 2703 - 2719


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