The 1967 Outer Space Treaty decrees that outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, “is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty”. Lawyers could soon be poring over that 48-year-old document as space mining becomes a reality. Some asteroids contain valuable minerals such as platinum.
The 1967 Outer Space Treaty was one of the few things the U.S. and the Soviet Union managed to agree on at the height of the Cold War. Among other things, it forbid both nations from bringing space microbes back to Earth, or spreading Earth germs to other planets.