Who Owns The Moon?

In “Rendezvous with Rama,” Arthur C. Clarke writes: “Only the Moon—and only the Moon—would always be a suburb of Earth.”

If it’s left to companies like Bigelow Aerospace and SpaceX, then in the not-too-distant future, the Moon may become, if not a suburb, then, at least, a mining colony.

The United Nations Outer Space Treaty, signed in 1967, by every space-faring country, prohibits any nation from claiming sovereignty over Earth’s only satellite. But its explicit ban on national appropriation leaves the door open for non-national ownership of the Moon—that is, by a private company.

The Las Vegas-based Bigelow Aerospace—founded in 1999 by Robert Bigelow, a hotel magnate—is hoping to exploit the ambiguity of the treaty’s wording to its advantage. It recently submitted an application to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Transportation, seeking to establish lunar property rights, so that it can mine the Moon.

Surely, the countries that signed the Outer Space treaty, didn’t wish to “replace national lunar colonization with commercial colonization.”



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