One reason that space exploration (and for that matter undersea exploration) hit a dead end was the insistence by certain international bodies and American organizations that the sea bottom and space were the “common property of mankind”.
And if you’re going to mine them, better get ready to deal with the UN.
Exploiting resources drives exploration. If you don’t exploit resources, then there’s no exploration except the government kind.
President Trump however has signed an executive order meant to change that and lay out America’s position on everything from mining the moon to exploiting the riches of the asteroid belt and beyond.
Americans should have the right to engage in commercial exploration, recovery, and use of resources in outer space, consistent with applicable law. Outer space is a legally and physically unique domain of human activity, and the United States does not view it as a global commons. Accordingly, it shall be the policy of the United States to encourage international support for the public and private recovery and use of resources in outer space, consistent with applicable law.
It also notes that the US does not legally recognize the moon as common property.
The Moon Agreement. The United States is not a party to the Moon Agreement. Further, the United States does not consider the Moon Agreement to be an effective or necessary instrument to guide nation states regarding the promotion of commercial participation in the long-term exploration, scientific discovery, and use of the Moon, Mars, or other celestial bodies. Accordingly, the Secretary of State shall object to any attempt by any other state or international organization to treat the Moon Agreement as reflecting or otherwise expressing customary international law.
This is largely focused on the diplomatic arena, but it’s an important statement of US policy on the right to exploit space.