Commercial interest in outer space is increasing, thanks in part to technological developments and private sector investment. Major spacefaring nations—including the United States, China, and Russia—are suddenly having to grapple with issues of space law that have not been so hotly debated since the Cold War. Unfortunately, the foundational document governing the use of outer space and its resources is the Outer Space Treaty from 1967. Written from the perspective of an earlier era and intentionally nonspecific in much of its phrasing, this agreement has stymied the economic development of space resources by its ambiguously worded prohibition on the appropriation of certain extraterrestrial objects.

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