WHO OWNS THE MOON?

No one does actually

You may have heard about people selling parts of the moon: they claim that you can become co-owner of moon lots for about US$ 40 per acre.

However, in my opinion, the moon belongs to no one, period! No state or government can claim ownership and neither can an individual. To state that it is mankind’s heritage and that ‘mankind’ could claim ownership is ridiculous and even arrogant: it would be a kind of colonialism. The same applies to other celestial bodies and, in fact, to the whole universe.

On the other hand, if all governments, and through them mankind, agreed among themselves on who owns the moon, and such agreement were to be laid down in a treaty, then such ownership would be part of international law and would thus be governed. As long as no one from outer space has introduced himself and no such person or species has the power to effectively contest the validity of such a treaty, governments have unlimited power to agree on whatever they want. However, without a treaty providing a legal basis for it, certainly no individual person (on earth) may claim any form of ownership whatsoever.

The Outer Space Treaty (the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies) is a treaty that forms the basis of international space law. This Treaty limits the use of the moon. No nuclear weapons, for example, may be stationed on the moon or any other celestial body. The treaty explicitly forbids any government from claiming a celestial resource such as the Moon or a planet, since they are the province of mankind.

According to the Treaty, the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development, and shall be the province of all mankind. The Treaty also provides that outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.

If you are looking for investment opportunities in real estate, don’t look at the moon. No single state or individual owns the moon or any part thereof.

Karel Frielink
Attorney (Lawyer) / Partner

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