whose moon is it anyway?
Technically, no one owns or can lay claim to the Moon. But if we start routinely staying on its surface, the law may need to change.
A recent article on Space.com wonders who owns the Moon. No, really. To who does a celestial object really belong? During a previous interview with Dr. Ian O’Neill, this was a topic that came up several times and according to current laws, nobody really owns the Moon or any of the planets. There are discoverer’s rights, but there’s no explicit, internationally defined ownership of an extraterrestrial body. These laws are about to be put to the test as Japan, China, India and the United States set their sights on the Moon.
It’s entirely plausible that the Moon will be divided into territories owned by different countries and each territory would then be leased to a company that wants to mine valuable minerals on the lunar surface and is willing to pay for it. The big worry is whether owning territory on other worlds means that there has to be a military presence there and according to Dr. O’Neill, that could be a death knell to mining and R&D work. After all, who in his or her right mind will want to set up a multi-billion dollar infrastructure on the Moon while missiles fly overhead?
An interesting tangent to this are the lunar land plots supposedly being sold by small agencies around the world to private customers. If you bought one of those lunar plot certificates, you should call and ask for your money back as there seems to be no law allowing these agencies to enforce the certificates’ powers or defend your claim on the Moon. For anyone to own any piece of our natural satellite, the land has to be first claimed by a nation and then allowed to be sold off by that nation’s government.
What do you think? Who really owns the Moon? Is it even right to own a celestial object to begin with? Would you buy lunar real estate if you could?