Space resource utilization is coming. While some legal impediments exist, they are not insurmountable. The ban on the appropriation of resources found in Article II of the Outer Space Treaty (“OST”) does not apply to extracted resources, according to the most reasonable interpretation of Article II and the view held by almost all countries and the overwhelming majority of scholars. The Moon Agreement is not a barrier to space resource utilization because it has not been adopted by many countries (and none of the major space-faring ones). By contrast, the Artemis Accords, which have been signed by a significant number of the major space-faring countries (including the US), are supportive of space resource utilization. The growing support for space resource utilization is reflected in the four national laws of the United States, Luxembourg, United Arab Emirates, and Japan. In principle, domestic laws are limited to activities performed in the jurisdiction of the country issuing the law, and space is not subject to the sovereignty of any country. However, the application of domestic law to space mining facilities (without any formal claim of sovereignty) – which is essential to achieving certainty in outer space and avoiding conflicts - is consistent with both the letter of the OST and its underlying purposes. After examining the purposes and the details of the four space resource utilization laws that have been enacted (also in light of the four countries’ legal systems), this paper provides a comparison of the four laws and identifies pragmatic considerations that space resource utilization companies should take into account in jurisdictional choices. The paper concludes that the “choice of flag” should be based more on considerations of the business environment, support, and political factors than on differences among the four laws.



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