There is a global race to get first dibs on valuable metallic and nonmetallic minerals and other natural resources in outer space for consumption on Earth as well as use as materials and fuel to aid completion of exploration and colonization missions in outer space.
Chances are that companies and investors racing to space to establish commercial operations, including tourism, human migration, colonization of space, and exploration and production (“E&P”) of space resources, may succeed in their endeavors. If the space resources E&P industry is anything like the oil and gas industry, there will be boom times, but many down times where things in the industry go bust. Thus, just like we are seeing intermittent reoccurring waves of oil and gas company restructurings, we should also expect that companies participating in capital intensive E&P activities in space will eventually land in bankruptcy court.
This article presents a general overview of the unsteady, underdeveloped and untested legal framework for E&P and private ownership of space resources and discussion of how existing law applicable to E&P projects on Earth may be useful in restructuring outer space mining projects and space resources in bankruptcy.