Home > Journals > LAWREVIEW > Vol. 90 > No. 2 (2016)
Starships and Enterprise: Private Spaceflight Companies' Property Rights and the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act
This Note utilizes SLCA as a focal point to discuss the potential of domestic regulation that grants private companies property rights in harvested outer space resources and how, if at all, these rights can exist within the boundaries of current international obligations. First, it outlines current international obligations in space law, delving into the treaties governing space law and analagous obligations in Antarctica and the deep sea. Second, this Note discusses how SLCA meets those guidelines and where it falls short. This Part draws on the Roman law principles of res nullius and res communis, the supporting sections of the Act itself, and analogies to the water law regime in the western United States to both support the Act and establish its shortcomings. Finally, this Note concludes that private companies can harvest space resources under SLCA consistently with the United States’ international obligations, but a sunset provision on this property rights regime, limiting its duration to a set term of years or until an updated international treaty regime is established, may be necessary to remain in compliance with international obligations.