Paper Title

The Implications of Space Debris Becoming a Space Resource

Presentation Type

Paper (supporting PowerPoints may be added as Additional Files)

Location

Henderson Welcome Center

Start Date

17-1-2018 9:30 AM

End Date

17-1-2018 11:00 AM

Abstract

United States law allows its citizens to engage in the "commercial recovery of an asteroid resource or a space resource" and grants property rights in such recovered resources. The legislation does not limit its application to natural resources like Article 11 of the Moon Treaty as it defines "space resource" to mean an "abiotic resource in situ in outer space." Moreover, the Act specifically clarifies that "space resource" includes water and minerals. The broad definition of "space resource" indicates that it can encompass resources which are of artificial origin.

The space industry appears to be on the cusp of engineering the convergence between "debris" and "space resource." For example, an Australian company has developed technology for transforming aluminum into fuel rods which can be used as a power source for satellites. Most space objects are composed of aluminum and the aluminum fuel rod technology can be employed in the outer space environment. This means space debris and aging satellites represent an available fuel source in situ in outer space for the emerging on orbit satellite service industry and other space ventures.

This paper will analyze and discuss regulatory provisions relevant to the aluminum fuel rod technology being able to assist in easing some space traffic management concerns by presenting the sustainable solutions of (1) a "recycling" alternative for end of life satellite disposal and (2) a viable incentive to extract existing debris from Earth orbit.

Area of Interest

Current Initiatives

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Key words include space, debris, resource, asteroid, fuel rods, satellite,and recycling

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Jan 17th, 9:30 AM Jan 17th, 11:00 AM

The Implications of Space Debris Becoming a Space Resource

Henderson Welcome Center

United States law allows its citizens to engage in the "commercial recovery of an asteroid resource or a space resource" and grants property rights in such recovered resources. The legislation does not limit its application to natural resources like Article 11 of the Moon Treaty as it defines "space resource" to mean an "abiotic resource in situ in outer space." Moreover, the Act specifically clarifies that "space resource" includes water and minerals. The broad definition of "space resource" indicates that it can encompass resources which are of artificial origin.

The space industry appears to be on the cusp of engineering the convergence between "debris" and "space resource." For example, an Australian company has developed technology for transforming aluminum into fuel rods which can be used as a power source for satellites. Most space objects are composed of aluminum and the aluminum fuel rod technology can be employed in the outer space environment. This means space debris and aging satellites represent an available fuel source in situ in outer space for the emerging on orbit satellite service industry and other space ventures.

This paper will analyze and discuss regulatory provisions relevant to the aluminum fuel rod technology being able to assist in easing some space traffic management concerns by presenting the sustainable solutions of (1) a "recycling" alternative for end of life satellite disposal and (2) a viable incentive to extract existing debris from Earth orbit.