The Lawfulness of Space Mining for Commercial Exploitation


  • Dr. Ali Taha Akrem Department of Law, College of Law, Salahaddin University-Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq.



Space Mining, Outer Space, international space treaties, commercial exploitation, national laws


Developed countries are now more interested in using and mining outer space for commercial purposes, and have therefore enacted legislation to regulate their activities in this regard. The factor that has prompted the major powers, is the presence of valuable natural resources; thus, they are working to mine those resources and bring them to the Earth. Although it is stated in the international space agreements that “government or private entities cannot possess outer space (such as the moon and other celestial bodies)”, without mentioning these resources. Additionally, outer space must be used for the benefit of all mankind. In recent years, developed countries and private entities have been seeking investment in outer space, but they may face a significant obstacle in terms of the absence of legal protection for property rights and sovereignty problems in outer space. The article is an analytical study that describes the international treaties and national laws regarding the lawfulness of space mining for commercial purposes. The study analyses the legal impact of the lack of sovereignty on the property rights in outer space. The study's main finding is the necessity to amend the international space agreements so that they are harmonious with technological developments and mankind's ambitions, exerting efforts to remove ambiguity in the existing international agreements regarding the commercial exploitation of outer space, as well as to invite countries around the world to draft the texts of the new international outer space agreements or to review existing outer space treaties, in a way that gives an opportunity to the countries of the world to access outer space without discrimination and increases cooperation between them in this regard.


First: Books

Chernykh, I. and Gugunskiy, D. (2022). Space Resource Utilization as Sustainable Economic Growth Perspectives: Legal Aspects. Translated by A. Inshakova. and Translated by E. Inshakova. In: New Technology for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth. [online] Singapore: Springer Nature, pp.165–176. Available at: doi:

Lee, R.J. (2012). Law and regulation of commercial mining of minerals in outer space. Dordrecht: Springer.

Second: Researches and Articles

Aksel, K. (2022). Ma Bell: The Mother of Invention in New Jersey. New Jersey Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 8(2), pp.217–221. doi:

Al Ali, N. (2021). The problem of the use of natural resources of the Moon and other celestial bodies for commercial purposes. Gosudarstvo i pravo, (8), p.100. doi:

Anderson, S.W., Christensen, K. and LaManna, J. (2018). The development of natural resources in outer space. Journal of Energy & Natural Resources Law, 37(2), pp.227–258. doi:

Bernat, P. (2019). The Inevitability of Militarization of Outer Space. Safety & Defense, 5(1), pp.49–54. doi:

Blanchette-Seguin, V. (2016). Reaching for the Moon: Mining in outer space. The NYU Journal of International Law & Politics, 49, pp. 959-970.‏

Chernykh, I. and Gugunskiy, D. (2022). Space Resource Utilization as Sustainable Economic Growth Perspectives: Legal Aspects. pp.165–176.


De Zwart, M., & Stephens, D. (2019). The space (innovation) race: the inevitable relationship between military technology and innovation. Melbourne Journal of International Law, 20(1), pp.1-28.‏ SSRN:

Dempsey, P. S. (2016). National laws governing commercial space activities: Legislation, regulation, & enforcement. Northwestern Journal of International Law & Business, 36(1), pp.1-44.‏ Available at "Commercial Space Activity Law" by Paul Stephen Dempsey (

Ferreira-Snyman, A. (2014). Legal challenges relating to the commercial use of outer space, with specific reference to space tourism. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal/Potchefstroomse Elektroniese Regsblad, 17(1), p.2.


Ferreira-Snyman, A. and Ferreira, G.M. (2019). The Application of International Human Rights Instruments in Outer Space Settlements: Today’s Science Fiction, Tomorrow’s Reality. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 22, pp.1–43.


Fouad Sahraoui, Hadid, L. and Huang, S. (2020). Magnetohydrodynamic and kinetic scale turbulence in the near-Earth space plasmas: a (short) biased review. Reviews of Modern Plasma Physics, 4(1), pp. 1-33. doi:

Genta, G. (2014). Private space exploration: A new way for starting a spacefaring society? Acta Astronautica, 104(2), pp.480–486.


Halunko, V. and Didenko, S. (2019). Private International Space Law. Philosophical and Legal Factors of Approval by the World Community. Philosophy and Cosmology, [online] 22, pp.16–23. doi:

Heise, J. (2018). Space, the Final Frontier of Enterprise: Incentivizing Asteroid Mining Under a Revised International Framework. Michigan Journal of International Law, (40.1), p.189. doi:

Hertzfeld, H. R., & Von der Dunk, F. G. (2005). Bringing space law into the commercial world: Property rights without sovereignty. Chi. J. Int'l L., 6(1), pp.81-99.‏ Available at:

Hobe, Stephan (2016). The International Institute of Space Law Adopts Position Paper on Space Resource Mining. Zeitschrift für Luft- und Weltraumrecht : ZLW, 65 (2). pp. 204-209. Available at:

Hoque, A. (2023). Broadening Opportunities of Space Tourism: Billionaire Group Tour of Space Piloting Fiction into Reality. Telematique, 22(01), pp. 364-368.‏ Available at:

Kaiser, S. A. (2017). Legal Protection against Contamination from Space Resource Mining. ZLW, 66, 282-289.‏ Available at:

Kendall, D. and Brachet, G. (2023). COPUOS: Current and Future Challenges. Air and Space Law, 48(Special Issue), pp.1–12. doi:

Kim, D.W. (2022). Mars Space Exploration and Astronautical Religion in Human Research History: Psychological Countermeasures of Long-Term Astronauts. Aerospace, 9(12), p.814. doi:

Kraska, J. (2022). Intelligence Collection and the International Law of the Sea. International Law Studies, 99(1), pp. 602-637. Available at:

Kułaga, Ł. (2018). Space Mining Governance from the Perspective of International Consultations with regard to Marine Genetic Resources and the Multilateralism-Unilateralism Dichotomy – Preliminary Considerations. Polish Review of International and European Law, 6(2), pp. 65-86. doi:

Leister, V. (2010). Economic Governance and Space Law: Emerging Foundations for Development of Common Pool Resources in Outer Space. Indian Journal of International Economic Law, 3(2), pp. 64-83.‏ Available at:

Leon, A. M. (2018). Mining for meaning: An examination of the legality of property rights in space resources. Virginia Law Review, 104(3), pp. 497-547.‏ Available at:

Marino, A. and Cheney, T. (2022). Centring Environmentalism in Space Governance: Interrogating Dominance and Authority Through a Critical Legal Geography of Outer Space. Space Policy, p.101521. doi:

Meyer, Z. (2010). Private commercialization of space in an international regime: A proposal for a space district. Northwestern Journal of International Law and Business, 30, 241-261.‏ Available at:

Nelson, T. G. (2010). The Moon Agreement and Private Enterprise: Lessons from Investment Law. ILSA Journal of International and Comparative Law, 17(2), pp. 393-416.‏ Available at:

Nnadozie, C.E. and Sule, I. (2022). The Principle of Common Heritage of Mankind in the Law of Outer Space. Law and Humanities Quarterly Reviews, 1(4), pp. 64-75. doi:

Pachankis, Y. (2022a). Physical Signals and their Thermonuclear Astrochemical Potentials: A Review on Outer Space Technologies. International Journal of Innovative Science and Research Technology, 7(5), pp. 669-674.


Pachankis, Y. (2022b). Reading the cold war through outer space: The past and future of outer space. International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research, 13(6), pp. 826-829. doi:

Padden, H. (2022). Does Space Law Prevent Patterns of Antarctic Imperialism in Outer Space? Global Policy, 13(3), pp.346–357. doi:

Pastorius, C. (2013). Law and Policy in the Global Space Industry's Lift-Of. Barry Law Review, 19(1), pp. 201-247. Available at:

Pekkanen, S.M. (2019). Governing the New Space Race. AJIL Unbound, 113, pp.92–97. doi:

Powell, M. (2019). Understanding the Promises and Pitfalls of Outer Space Mining and the Need for an International Regulatory Body to Govern the Extraction of Space-Based Resources. Pittsburgh Journal of Technology Law and Policy, 19(1), pp. 1-36. doi:

Reinstein, E. J. (1999). Owning outer space. Northwestern Journal of International Law & Business, 20(1), 59-98.‏ Available at:

Saleem, A. N., Noori, N. M., & Ozdamli, F. (2022). Gamification applications in E-learning: A literature review. Technology, Knowledge and Learning, 27(1), pp. 139-159. doi:

Sarnacki, D. (2014). Property Rights in Space. Texas A&M Journal of Property Law, 2(1), pp.123–146. doi:

Wrench, J. G. (2019). Non-appropriation, no problem: The outer space treaty is ready for asteroid mining. Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, 51(1), pp. 437-462.‏ Available at:

Third: Conferences

United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) (2007). Space Technology Treaties Security International Instruments Weapons. Conference Celebrating the Space Age: 50 years of space technology, 40 years of the Outer space treaty: Conference report 2-3 April 2007. Geneva: UN, 2007. - Available at:

Fourth: Legislations and International Agreements

Agreement governing the activities of states on the Moon and other Celestial Bodies (Moon Agreement). New York, 5 December 1979.

Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects (Liability Convention) (1972).

The Luxembourg Law on the Exploration and Use of Space Resources of 20 July 2017 entered into force on 2 August 2017.

Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (Use of Outer Space Treaty) (1967) US. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, Nov. 25, 2015.

UAE Federal Law No. 12 of 2019 on the Regulation of the Space Sector.

Fifth: Electronic Resources and Websites (2019). NASA, Boeing Media Teleconference Streaming Now – Commercial Crew Program. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Jan. 2023].

CNN, B. Jackie W. and Adrienne V. (2023b). SpaceX’s uncrewed Starship explodes on launch attempt. [online] CNN. Available at: [Accessed 3 Jul. 2023].

CNN, L.K. (2023a). Venus is a Russian planet -- say the Russians. [online] CNN. Available at: [Accessed 4 April. 2023]. (2023). Space Mining and (U.S.) Space Law | Peace Palace Library. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Jul. 2023].

Skipper, J. and Gorman, S. (2023). Elon Musk’s Starship explodes minutes after first test flight’s liftoff. Reuters. [online] 21 Apr. Available at: [Accessed 7 Jul. 2023] (2023). Space Resources. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Jul. 2023].

Wion. (2023). Elon Musk loses billions in net worth after Starship explosion, Tesla’s underperformance. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Jul. 2023]. (2023). Countries With Space Programs 2021. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 March. 2023].



How to Cite

Akrem, D. (2023). The Lawfulness of Space Mining for Commercial Exploitation. Zanco Journal of Law and Politics گۆڤاری زانكۆ بۆ یاساورامیاری, 21(35), 108–126.