The outer reaches of space are up for grabs, and large technology companies and assorted industrialists the world over are anxious to stake their claims to it. Lofty ambitions such as theirs have defined the spirit of progress and discovery throughout our planet's history, but they also result in an extraordinary conundrum in this case. Who owns outer space? The Race to Space follows figures on all sides - from entrepreneurs to foreign governments to legal experts - as they navigate their way through this exciting uncharted territory.
Enacted in 2015 under President Obama, the United States Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, or Space Act for short, represents the next evolution in space exploration. Intergalactic projects are no longer the sole domain of large government agencies and a few select states. They're now open to industrialized interests as well.
Two companies in particular - Deep Six Industries and Planetary Resources - are at the forefront of this movement. Their interests lie in the mining of asteroids, from which they can extract precious resources for future space endeavors and practical applications here on Earth. The water and metal content of asteroids are essential in sustaining life and building infrastructure in outer space for the purposes of colonization while their high volumes of platinum metals can help to restore one of our planet's scarcest resources. The United Arab Emirates is in pursuit of the same goal. The oil that constitutes the majority of their wealth may one day run dry, and platinum mining offers a promising substitution.
That's where Frans von der Dunk comes in. A Professor of Space Law, he's the officially appointed Sheriff of Outer Space. It falls on him to craft the system by which these various industries can operate and co-exist within the galaxy in a manner that won't resemble the disorder of the Wild West. His major challenge lies in drafting policies that satisfy the demands of current and future space exploration projects.
The Race to Space makes one realize just how far we've come since the first man walked on the moon nearly 50 years ago. Compared to those simpler times, the realities of space exploration today are truly out of this world.