Companies are looking for the dredging of the moon's surface for precious materials. So, what rules are there for the people who exploit and claim property
It's almost 50 years since Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon. "This is a small step for the man," said the American astronaut, "a giant leap for humanity."
Soon after, his colleague Buzz Aldrin joined him at the intersection of the Sea of Peace. After descending from the steps of the Eagle's moon, he stared at the empty landscape and said, "Great desolation."
From the Apollo 1
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Earlier this month, China unloaded the Chang-e-4 probe on the far side of the moon and managed to germinate cotton seed in the biosphere on its surface.
The Japanese company iSpace plans to build a "Moon-Earth Transport Platform" and to conduct a "polar water survey" on the moon.
The movements are underway, so there are rules to ensure that Aldrin's devastation remains undisturbed, or can the Earth's only great natural moon be involved in land and commercially and politically driven resources? While NASA is planning its first piloted lunar missions, the United Nations has created a space treaty signed in 1967 by states including the United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom.
It states: "The outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by a claim of sovereignty, by use or occupation, or by any other means."
Joan Wheeler, director of space specialist Alden Advisers, describes the contract as "Magna Carta of Space". This makes planting a flag on the moon – as Armstrong and his heirs did – meaningless, as it does not give any "binding rights" to individuals, companies or states, she adds.
In practice, land ownership and the rights of the moons for the Moon were not of major importance in 1969. But as technology has evolved, the exploitation of its profitable resources has become more likely – albeit still still far away – perspective. The activities of the Moon and other celestial bodies, better known as the Moon Agreement. This stipulates that they should be used for peaceful purposes and that the UN should itself be informed where and why someone is planning to build a station.
The agreement also says that "the moon and its natural resources are the common heritage of mankind," and that an international regime should be set up to manage the exploitation of such resources when such exploitation is about to become feasible "
But the problem with the Moon Agreement is that only 11 countries have ratified it, France is one, and India is different, the biggest players in space – including China, the United States and Russia – are not, nor Britain.
Anyway, Mrs Wheeler says it's not so easy to the rules are laid down in the Treaties, and the various countries include the documents they sign in the law, and have the task of ensuring that companies and individuals respect them
Professor Joan Iren Gabrinich, former editor-in-chief of the Journal of Consent, that international agreements offer "no guarantees." Implementation "is a complex mix of politics, economics and public opinion," she adds.
And existing treaties denying the national ownership of the celestial bodies have faced an additional challenge in recent years. In 2015, the United States adopted the Law on the Competitiveness of Commercial Spaces, recognizing the right of citizens to have resources that they can extract from asteroids.
Eric Anderson, a co-founder of Planetary Resources, described the legislation as "the greatest recognition of property rights in history."
19659007] In 2017, Luxembourg adopted its own act conferring the same right of ownership on the resources found in space. Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneider said that this would make his country "a pioneer in Europe and a leader in this sector".
There is a desire to explore and earn money, with countries seeming more and more eager to help companies. mining, whether with the intention of returning the material to Earth or storing or producing it on the Moon, is just the opposite of not doing any harm, "says Helen Ntbeni, a lawyer in Nadyd's cosmic law and policy.
She adds that it can be said that the United States and Luxembourg have "harassed" their exit from the provisions of the Space Treaty. "I am rather skeptical that the high moral notions of the world that explore space together as equal nations will be preserved," she says.