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|Origin:||IISL-01-IISL.1.13. Presented at 52nd IAF Congress, Toulouse, France, 1 October 2001|
|Abstract:||The progress in the robotic exploration of asteroids, coupled with the intention of an entrepreneur to declare ownership of an asteroid following effective possession, stress the need for an appropriate legal definition of the term "celestial body".
This paper discusses whether [some] asteroids and comets are "celestial bodies", immovable land-like territorial extensions that cannot be appropriated under present regulations - or floating movable things, orebodies ferrae naturae capable of being captured and reduced into private ownership. Several theories are examined, such as the employment of the spatialist and functionalist approaches, or the use of the criterion of actual movability from orbit by human action.
The present paper weighs the different advantages and disadvantages of each of the above schools of thought, and attempts new approaches based on original findings, such as the analogy between the legal status of asteroids and icebergs.