Who owns the moon?

By Marcus Wilson 12/10/2009

What gives NASA the right to hurl projectiles at 1.5 miles per second into the surface of the moon? Interesting, definitely. Useful, perhaps. Reasonable? I’m not so sure. Did this mission go through some kind of ethics approval? 

0 Responses to “Who owns the moon?”

  • Hi Marcus

    Certainly, the question of moon ownership is a fraught one. Then again, I think it’s probably not the right question – it is valid research that’s being carried out, and could potentially lead to extremely useful data, particularly in terms of moon water being a source for hydrogen fuelling and pit stops. As for an ethics council – where there is no harm being done, would such a thing be useful? And who would make up the council?

    Interestingly, I saw this article about scientists being perplexed at the lack of a plume: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/nasa-bombs-the-moon-ndash-but-where-was-the-fallout-1800574.html

    If you’d like a giggle, though, have a look here: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/10/07/stop_nasa_bombing_the_moon/

  • I believe you can stuill buy land on the moon, though exactly how offical and legal this is is questionable.

    This does bring up a more serious issue with respect to rights and ownership of space (such an anthropomorphic idea). Over the years this has come up and I have kept an interested eye on the subject. I know the US military has the opinion that it has some sort of ownership of not only the moon but of orbital space. They frame thier agruements (as usual) through the lense of defense, saying only it can be trusted to have military hardware orbiting the planet. These arguments have been pushed even more now that china has a viable space programme. As well as defense there is an eye towards any mineral wealth on the moon, though how viable this would be given the transport costs is questionable. We would probably have to have exhausted all our mineral resources on terra firma first to even consider it.

  • Well if you look at it from a flag planting point of view the Soviets got a few robots up there, and the Americans a few robots and some people, so they may have a claim. I guess if we get some settlers up there then they can stake out there own claims. I suspect though that some international body such as the International Astronomical Union, might need to be involved in divvying up things.

    But certainly the people selling the rights to land on the moon have no legal basis for doing so.

  • Under the auspices of the UN’s 1967 Outer Space Treaty (http://www.unoosa.org/oosa/SpaceLaw/outerspt.html) and ratified by New Zealand on 31 May 1968, no nation can stake a claim to the Moon or other extra-terrestrial bodies. So, a similar intent to the Antarctic Treaty.

    Some companies of debatable legal foundation assert that the Treaty doesn’t preclude ‘private’ ownership so you too can part with good money for a piece of lunar real estate. Presumably with the nearest library and rubbish collection 380,000 km away you can expect some discount on the council rates.