Mike Gold To Shepherd NAC Extraterrestrial Resource Principles in New Job at NASA

Mike Gold To Shepherd NAC Extraterrestrial Resource Principles in New Job at NASA

The NASA Advisory Council  (NAC) recently adopted a set of eight principles for the extraction and utilization of extraterrestrial resources.  Developed by NAC’s Regulatory and Policy Committee (RPC), they are headed to the Administrator’s office where they will be received by a familiar face.  Mike Gold, who chaired the RPC, is joining NASA as  a special advisor to the Administrator tomorrow and hopes to shepherd the principles along to a wider audience both domestically and internationally.

Mike Gold. Credit CNW Group/Maxar Technologies Ltd,

Gold is well known in Washington space policy circles.  After more than a decade as head of Bigelow Aerospace’s Washington Office, he joined Space Systems Loral, which is now part of Maxar Technologies. He has been serving as Maxar’s Vice President of Regulatory and Policy and General Counsel of its Radiant Solutions business unit.  In addition to chairing the NAC RPC committee, he also chaired the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) for the past seven years.

Tomorrow, however, he reports for duty at NASA as special advisor to Administrator Jim Bridenstine for international and legal affairs.

In an interview today, Gold talked about the NAC-approved extraterrestrial resources principles and broader efforts internationally to develop an international agreement of some sort.

On October 31, NAC adopted the Gold committee’s recommendation to Bridenstine that NASA work with the National Space Council and the Departments of State, Commerce, Transportation and Defense “to formulate and adopt specific principles, guidelines, rules, and regulations” that address extraterrestrial resource extraction and utilization.  Furthermore, it recommended that NASA and other federal entities advocate for the global adoption of such principles. It offered the following eight “initial” principles for Bridenstine’s consideration.

Principle 1

Abiotic space resources (or simply “space resources”) shall be extracted in a manner that fully complies with the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies. In this context, the term “extraction” includes but is not limited to (i) the extraction of resources from the interior of a celestial body and (ii) the recovery of resources from the surface of a celestial body.

Principle 2

The extraction of space resources should be conducted in a manner that takes into account the United States’ commitment to the United Nations Guidelines for the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities.

Principle 3

The extraction and utilization of space resources does not constitute national appropriation under Article II of the Outer Space Treaty.

Principle 4

Per Article VI of the Outer Space Treaty, States shall authorize and supervise the extraction of space resources from celestial bodies.

Principle 5

States’ domestic laws should facilitate government and non-government extraction and utilization of space resources as well as the ownership of those resources.

Principle 6

The principle of due regard, consistent with Article IX of the Outer Space Treaty, should be taken into account by any State authorizing the extraction of space resources.  If the State responsible for authorizing the extraction of space resources has reason to believe, based on the information described by Article XI, such activities would result in harmful interference, consistent with Article IX, the State shall engage in consultations with the affected States.

Principle 7

States shall share scientific information with the international community resulting from activities related to space resource extraction and utilization, to the greatest extent feasible and practicable, on a good-faith basis, and in compliance with national laws, including but not limited to export controls as well as protections for intellectual property and national and commercially sensitive data.

Principle 8

States shall inform the Secretary-General of the United Nations as well as the public and the international scientific community, to the greatest extent feasible and practicable, in compliance with national laws, including but not limited to export controls as well as protections for intellectual property and national and commercially sensitive data, regarding the nature, conduct, and location(s) of authorized space resource extraction activities. States shall also provide timely notice to the Secretary-General of terminated space resource extraction activities.

Gold told SpacePolicyOnline.com that in his new job he hopes to be able to move them along to a broader audience within the United States and internationally.  “Having worked in the private sector for years, I’m eager to leverage this work and the foundation that we’ve established to create an international framework for space resources and commercial activities in general that’s supportive of private sector activities and Artemis,” a reference to NASA’s lunar exploration plans.

Gold pointed out during his NAC presentation that international entities are working on these issues and the United States needs to lead in order to try to avoid adoption of conflicting policies.

Indeed, the Hague Space Resources Governance Working Group just adopted “Building Blocks for the Development of an International Framework of Space Resource Activities.”  Established in 2014, the working group effort is led by the International Institute of Air and Space Law at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, one of the world’s top universities for air and space law.

Space resource utilization was also discussed at the United Nations Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) this summer. Gold told NAC that UNCOPUOS is creating a working group within its Legal Subcommittee to take a position on this topic.  “It is vital that the United States lead… If we don’t take this action, we risk again not having a clear and consistent global policy and that leads not just to confusion, but ultimately potential conflict.”

The State Department, not NASA, represents the United States at UNCOPUOS.  NASA also is not a regulatory agency. It does, however, have a lot of technical expertise and its views could carry substantial weight in whatever position the United States wants to take as space resource utilization grows closer to reality.

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