posted on Apr, 11 2020 @ 08:36 PM
It was my understanding that anyone can exploit lunar resources; you just can’t claim any part of the moon. I don’t think near earth objects are
subject to any international treaties. If I’m not mistaken, you could claim one if you can reach it, though you’d probably have to do
things like survey it, perform mineral assays, emplacement claim markers and return samples to Earth.
Regardless of whether or not you can claim a NEO, there’s no legal reason why you couldn’t mine one and bring its materials to Earth or Earth
orbit. Perhaps the UN might claim a share of the proceeds, I don’t know.
Water is the most likely extraterrestrial resource for initial in situ-exploitation. It’s incredibly useful for space operations — you get
hydrogen and oxygen for fuel and oxidizer; ice for radiation and ballistic protection; oxygen for breathing; and water for drinking, cleaning, etc.
And you wouldn’t have to bring it at incredible expense from Earth. It seems to be more common at the lunar South Pole and in NEOs and possibly the
Martian moons than was previously thought. It would be much easier to extract and transport water than probably any other ET resource, and it could
provide fuel and oxidizer to the spacecraft taking it to Earth orbit.
As for mining minerals on Mars, only people living on Mars could benefit since the cost to transport them to Earth would be absurdly high. Now the
Martian moons Deimos and Phobos are a different story. They would be no harder to reach than many NEOs, i.e., easier to reach and return from than the
moon. The only problem is it takes years to reach them and return to Earth.