Whose Moon is it anyway?

Posted: February 8, 2015 by oldbrew in Legal, moon, Politics
51st state? [image credit: NASA]

51st state? [image credit: NASA]

Who is going to police the Moon if or when its resources begin to be exploited?

Phys.org notes that the UN ‘…passed an Outer Space treaty back in 1967, which among other things, stipulates that no one country can claim sovereignty over any part of the moon.’ More from phys.org:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has caused a bit of stir by hinting that it plans to expand its authority to include exploration of the moon and the use of its resources. News agency Reuters has reported that it has obtained a copy of a letter composed by officials with the agency and sent to U.S. based Bigelow Airspace—in it, the agency said it plans to leverage its launching authority by adding licensing authority of moon assets — all to encourage private companies to invest in such activities.

The reason such a move has caused a stir, of course, is because it appears that the U.S. agency is attempting to expand its oversight into an area where it does not have the authority to do so.

No one owns the moon or any part of it, which makes it ripe for the taking. A similar scenario is taking place in parts of the northern hemisphere as global warming reveals new unclaimed territory. In years past, land grabs generally resulted in the spoils going to those who came first—and then fought off those that tried to take it away from them. To prevent such a scenario unfolding in a new more civilized world, the United Nations passed an Outer Space treaty back in 1967, which among other things, stipulates that no one country can claim sovereignty over any part of the moon. It also lays out rules for activities on the moon—private entities that go there, for example, must be authorized and supervised by countries belonging to the UN.

George Nield, author of the letter, in responding to criticism regarding its intent, claimed that the wording does not imply that the agency is attempting to license moon landings—the agency, he said, was merely trying to reassure Bigelow that it would do its best to protect the company’s assets once they are on the moon. Unfortunately, others do not see it that way.

Read the rest here.

Could be a legal minefield.

Comments
  1. Joe Public says:

    “Could be a legal minefield.” I’m sure the lawyers will arrange that.

  2. oldbrew says:

    Will astronauts need to carry passports?

  3. ivan says:

    A similar scenario is taking place in parts of the northern hemisphere as global warming reveals new unclaimed territory.
    And just what and where are these new unclaimed territories?

    As for the moon, I would think it all depends on who can get there and setup living space. Until then it is just a paper exercise with no real meaning.

  4. oldbrew says:

    ivan: the law is written on paper😉

    On the other hand ‘possession is nine-tenths of the law’ or so the saying goes.

  5. M Simon says:

    Who owns the moon? The usual. Who ever can hold it.

  6. wyoskeptic says:

    What gets me about the issues of “just pass a law” is this simple observation: It is one thing to pass a law. It is quite another to enforce it.

    The UN has all sorts of laws that ISIS breaks every moment of every day. The UN has passed the laws, but who is willing to enforce any of them?

    The moon is 238,000 miles (384,000 km) away. How is anything that gets passed HERE on earth get enforced unless someone THERE enforces it?

  7. The US under Obummer are heading towards the back of the queue. The Russian are servicing the Space Station but probably can not afford to put a base on the moon. The most likely will be the Chinese and they will take no notice of the UN.

  8. Zeke says:

    Q: What makes God laugh?
    A: Listening to our plans.

    It makes me laugh too xD