Governing moon miners, asteroid hunters and space junk sounds pretty tricky, but we better get our act together. This year the majority of space launches included commercial enterprises. Space is no longer just the playground of governments but companies; companies that want to mine the moon for water that they could sell as rocket fuel, companies that want to mine the moon for helium -3 which could be sold and used as energy back on earth and companies that want to mine asteroids for platinum that they could sell for huge profits. But is this legal?
United States


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00:00:19welcome to the inquiry on the BBC World Service with me Ruth Alexander each week we bring you full X but Witnesses I'm pressing question from the news
00:00:33T minus 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 the slim White Rocket Powers into the blue sky above Florida hospitals and on through the Earth's atmosphere just passed through supersonic Hardware
00:01:023 minutes in and several thousand kilometers above have the Rockets 9 engines cut
00:01:10successful separated
00:01:15the crowd watching the onboard cameras by down below at NASA's launch site Donna braids
00:01:22the rocket separates into one Hoffstot's to send the other carrying a small spacecraft known as a dragon parmesan into space
00:01:36the dragons taking supplies to the International Space Station 5 years ago it was the first commercial spacecraft to complete such a mission this year than 50 space launches involving commercial players
00:01:54the new space race is on this time the rivals on countries that companies it's a gold rush that experts say is ushering in the truth Space Age and testing the limits of International Space laws in this inquiry we ask We Rule the universe
00:02:24Part 1 a treaty for outer space
00:02:31a first expert witness straight in space
00:02:41never expected his career would take I had not the slightest idea because when I was a young boy nobody was really dreaming of going into space 20 years later in the 1950s that changed
00:03:06Sputnik was launched into space in 1957
00:03:11small satellite about the size of the beach Bowl the first man-made object in space center by the Soviet Union in the middle of the Cold War and the first created the lot of emotions around the world arch rival the US responded
00:03:32the Moon
00:03:33we choose to go to the Moon I said Kennedy then proclaims that the United States would be the first country to go to the month and people begin to realize that this wasn't completed you around with absolutely no rules of the road the United Nations decided to come up with some rules and setup a committee or the peaceful uses about the space a real fear that cold war war could go into Gothic absolutely what cuz I hold it was a difficult beginning because there isn't the best but not really grey Google drive this committee vote between stream ended but fortunately a neutral country came in Austria was accepted by The Americans on the Soviets is the committee chair but what the warring parties managed to agree on anything else strangely enough relations between the
00:04:33the union and the United States where are the friendly this space you know any Cement City inspired other kind of approaches and then sings YouTube 80's of discussions agreement was reached and the Fest space law was drafted was a long and complicated name treaty on principles governing the activities of states in the exploration and use of outer space including the moon and other Celestial body for short Nations adventuring into Space Bound by 7 rules which is the most important thing is that there is no National appropriation space if you go to space if you set your foot on the Moon by the insulation you do not require sovereignty you cannot conquer outer space and to hear their second important position of the three days
00:05:33did the exploration and use of of space shoes for peaceful purposes only
00:05:40the treaty banned countries from taking nuclear weapons into space it was groundbreaking
00:06:05the treaty still stands today and provides the legal basis for all space activity because of my childhood vol.2 space and the committee for the peaceful use of outer space didn't stop that in the early 1970s expert witness Peter Yankovic wishing for the moon and we try to figure out the system how this resources could be preserved for all of mankind a remarkable ability to cooperate with one another is that every member of the oldest basically sober than the American negotiators what happened back in the corner of your committee and come out with some solution stuck ring related search agreement could be reached after time of Cold War
00:07:00it is extremely astonishing eventually the moon agreement was drawn up stating that the natural resources on the moon with a all mankind before it could be signed the mood changed
00:07:17liberal politics were in international agreements out
00:07:23the Munich agreement founded to our expert Witnesses great disappointment the next Engine Oak Grove to protect the moon and make it really is something which belongs to all of us
00:07:42embarrassment because since 1979 there have not been any new outer space street is despite the fact that many new developments have taken place
00:07:54new developments of creating new problems as our next expert witness will explain
00:08:07part 2 space junk
00:08:13fourth of January morning 10 years ago boys a picture of the Earth and it showed these dots around the Earth
00:08:35adults with pieces of broken up satellite
00:08:45China had blown up one of its own weather Satellites with a missile hitting a hundred fifty thousand
00:08:55objects that kind of golf the Earth
00:08:59I was shocked to be honest
00:09:04that moment she Moto's career path with stat aerospace engineering student from Tokyo you decided to become an expert in space debris
00:09:15the Chinese test was controversial but then I'll be anyone's creating a mess in space there are hundreds of thousands of pieces of rubbish up their boxes cameras the problem in Space is really easy to drop letter under difficult to pick it up again that's exactly the problem that satellites pieces of dead satellites pieces due to explosions or collisions in space and also spent Rocky bodies that are left in orbit just didn't think about what to do with the satellites in the rockets on stage setting up there and then finish using them the prevailing theory for a very long time was what was called the Big Sky Theory and a nacho that just means that you know people thought that there is a lot of space in space and so two objects so that's why I'm very unlikely to collide will send the theory goes however
00:10:15tween American satellite and a Russian satellite and this is really a big wake-up call for the entire Community said the Big Sky Theory $10 on the two satellites broke up in 2000 of pieces I didn't very small pieces of debris the signs of a piece of fruit monster in space object in orbit around at several kilometers per second of a collision yes moving that fast 10 centimeters in size henagar spacecraft would cause a catastrophic break up the vent on the objects and debri there are in Space the higher the risk of collisions which of course more collisions the orbit around the Earth is filling up fast with junk it could become so hazardous
00:11:15use space as we know today how do you say this isn't something only astronauts in space scientists need to worry about a lot of us don't really realize how integrated into our everyday lives whenever we open maps or any GPS app on our phones were using space whenever we check the weather for using space we're watching satellite TV were using space if space gets too full you will know about it works for a company with a solution for collecting old Rockets and the like you would ask our customers to attach a rescue package on the outer surface of their spacecraft and then when the spacecraft mission is over by fujimoto's rubbish collecting spacecraft would come along attach itself to the spacecraft and tow it away
00:12:15sphere both spacecraft with butt up and disappear on reentry other companies have proposed solutions to like spearing British with the attached to a soft and relaxing sounds a little bit yet it's a limit to walk could be achieved ironically because of that first base law we had about which was designed to protect space is yours until a tree interest your sadness. So you can't just go up to a piece of debris or a non-functioning object and get it out of her sorbets without the owner's permission Fujimoto says that isn't much incentive for annona to pay to have that rubbish removed litter fine for leaving your piece of debris up an orbit an international space
00:13:15police meanwhile dozens of private companies and I'll just laying to put thousands more satellites into space to service our digital lives down here on Earth of their sights set even higher
00:13:38part 3 the gas station at the end of the universe
00:13:47expert witness John phones can do some really cool name dropping like Jack Schmitt the former Apollo 17 astronaut an old friend of mine to come to the job I'm a scientist so most of my work comes from the perspective of pushing the envelope to explore the cosmos
00:14:11this increasingly the contact with private companies this year commercial interest in space as he says reached a Tipping Point taking him and his colleagues on nessus Advisory Board quite by surprise unexpectedly companies were coming forward and showing us imagery of Rocketts Landing on the moon that they had already been working on secretly for the last few years without really any of us knowing and to me it was like now we really are in the twenty-first century The Preserve of a few governments in the scientists space junk done says will be truly opened up by companies on a profit Mission reaching for the moon it's only 3 days away and the advantage of the moon is it also has resources and in particular water in the polls which in many ways is like
00:15:11the petroleum of the Earth in that the water can be broken up into its components of oxygen hydrogen and reassembled is rocket for you exactly how to do this this will no doubt involve - in space suits picture this
00:15:34the cryogenic Fuel Depot probably in orbit of the moon not necessarily on the surface of moon various governmental entities NASA india-china would stop at these fuel Depots and refuel and then travel on to maybe two Asteroids for the to the Moon maybe even the Mars
00:15:58wow and there are many other precious resources that could be mind on the Moon beer is traces of platinum there's hydrogen there's helium there's carbon there some iron nickel in the rest of his gaze up at the Moon movie see the shadows of mines and gas stations factories and offices could well be that although we might find is more viable to build underground to use some of these so-called lava tubes which are holes that are in the surface of the Moon based on very ancient volcanic flows that where they are so you could Envision more of a an underground economy if you will
00:16:47Aunty says given the billions of dollars being thrown at this it's a Luna future that could be just 20 years away folks and Silicon Valley for example shot in the arm to the space Enterprise there is a lot of money to be made from the Moon and quite soon so it sounds like many of them will live to see the commercialization of the Moon Austin to the Future the laws that govern space a stuck in the past
00:17:35part for humankind before profits
00:17:47well since I was a little girl about 5 years old I was looking up to the moon and the stars that used to lay down on the cross and then does all the stars and the moon and and it just makes you dream and think about how small we are
00:18:06today Sarah Moon's I often get the the remark that my name was well chosen is a lawyer at the European center for the space Lord I just know last fascinated by the possibilities of space that she wants as a girl
00:18:28living in very exciting times
00:18:33she says the outer space treaty that's grown up 50 years ago join the cold war is no longer enough we do need a new Eagle International framework so up until now there are some guidelines relating to space debris but they are not legally binding also the outer space treaty signed on some mining 1960s men's a starting because if she says no one can own the moon how can companies be signed on it some Scholars say that you can appropriate the natural resources that you extract from celestial bodies in some countries surrounding their own space Lowe's to this affect the United States and Luxembourg they have drafted an egg
00:19:33space Law act when they do grants private companies to write the property rights to resources from outer space other countries seriously jacked Russia is not very satisfied with this so this is a problem so there is a need for an international consensus on this do we reach agreement definition does discussions are already starting an inspiration legal experts are looking to the high seas what is happened on the deep sea pets because that is also in a place with an international statutes and it is not owned by a country does a deep-sea committee with International members who decide who can drill for oil and how this might be set up for the mining of outer space that you also need to call Michi that will decide on who gets the license
00:20:33and to make sure that the resources that are extracted that they are used in way to benefit for all countries in the end they have to share his knowledge with other companies are there an Electra must be perfect he available than usual environment for companies wouldn't it I mean I used to protect from Thunder used to deal with what's needed Sarah Moon says I'm finding rules at least by two elected countries agreed the original outer space treaty was a masterpiece of international law and cooperation that was however 50 years ago and the world isn't even more complicated play
00:21:30I wonder whether we come see this because we can't cooperate with one another down here on Earth they want chances all that that we can Corporation space I honestly disagree with you that we can Cup race on Earth we do have many International treaties that are capable of regulating difficult things on earth
00:21:57and if we come up with these Solutions we rest peace on Earth and in space I hope many countries are very aware of this and then we'll do that more to come to an international consensus
00:22:13we just have to find a solution we have to find a solution
00:22:23how do we rule the universe about expert Witnesses have advised with a new set of laws Fit For A 21st Century Technologies and Ambitions clothes that have been negotiated and agreed by All Nations for the good of humankind it sounds idealistic maybe unrealistic history has shown us space By the way of making people look up from that Earthly concerns to think big
00:23:02the enquiry was presented by me Ruth Alexander who is produced by Phoebe King on Josephine Cafe
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