19 May 1998
News - Habitat (None)
Space Development Institute to be Established
SpaceDev Founder Jim Benson Extends Scope
by Patrick Collins
Jim Benson, Chairman and founder of SpaceDev, the San Diego company developing the first commercial satellite mission to an asteroid, has decided to establish the "Space Development Institute" in San Diego.

While SpaceDev is a commercial company that will sell scientific data that it obtains from robotic missions to asteroids and other bodies, the new Institute will hold workshops with heads of companies and other industrial and commercial organizations to explore regulatory and legal as well as commercial and technical issues relating to space development.

Benson has earlier stated his intention to claim legal title to the asteroid 1996 XB27 when SpaceDev's Near Earth Asteroid Prospector (NEAP) satellite arrives in April 2001, in order to generate serious discussion of the legal issues relating to commercial utilization of non-terrestrial resources.

Although it is unlikely that any other organization will try to challenge SpaceDev's claim in the near future - for example by landing and extracting resources from 1996 XB27 - the issue is a very important one. For example, the ice that may exist near the Moon's poles is an extra-terrestrial resource that may start to be used commercially within the very near-term, but its legal status is currently unclear.
Source: Space News May 11

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Patrick Collins 19 May 1998
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