House Passes Bill Giving Corporations Property Rights to Mining on Asteroids

Tuesday, May 26, 2015
(graphic: NASA, NORCAT)

Members of the U.S. House have decided that American laws should extend to asteroids floating through outer space. The reason? To help corporations make money off of potential mineral rights to those asteroids.


The House approved H.R. 1508, known as the Space Resource Exploration and Utilization Act of 2015, sponsored by Representative Bill Posey (R-Florida). The bill says the U.S. government can protect the property rights for American companies that extract resources from asteroids.


The legislation would also ensure that these companies can mine and drill “without harmful interference,” and it tells the White House “to facilitate commercial development of asteroid resources,” according to Posey’s office.


Posey’s measure was folded into a larger space bill, H.R. 2262, the SPACE Act, by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California), which cleared the House 284-133, with 48 Democrats supporting it. The legislation provides “updates to the Commercial Space Launch Act, which gives guidance to the growing commercial space industry,” according to a press release from the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.


The SPACE Act also includes an amendment by Posey that his office said “will streamline the regulatory process, encourage cooperation between government agencies, and eliminate red tape and bureaucracy impeding development of the commercial space sector.” This added provision was needed, according to Posey, because multiple federal agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Defense, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, oversee different aspects of commercial space launches.


Should Posey’s bill eventually become law, it could ensure a potential goldmine for corporations with the means to extract minerals from those giant flying boulders. Platinum-group metals, for example, are so highly concentrated on asteroids that one 500 meters wide may contain more of them “than have ever been mined in human history,” according to Planetary Resources, an asteroid mining firm. Earthly demand for these metals is extraordinary, given that one out of four industrial goods require them in production. Other metallic elements, such as cobalt, iron, and nickel, are also plentiful on asteroids, their pure, non-oxidized state making them particularly desirable to industry.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman


To Learn More:

House Passes Posey’s Space Act Legislation (Office of Congressman Bill Posey)

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Approves Pro-Commercial Space Bills (House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology)

The More We Learn About Asteroids, The More Enticing Destinations They Become! (Planetary Resources)

Text of the Space Resource Exploration and Utilization Act of 2015 (


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