Extraterrestrial Property and Space Law: Frequently Asked Questions.
This page is a statement of how MoonEstates.com Ltd view the "legalities" of selling extraterrestrial property.
1. What is the law today?
With regard to extraterrestrial property sales, two treaties exist today.
These treaties do not refer to "ownership" as such, they more commonly refer to the "exploitation of the Moon and other celestial bodies for profit purposes", and extraterrestrial property sales distinctly fall under that section. The treaties are, The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 and the Moon Treaty of 1984.
The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 explicitly forbids any government from claiming a celestial resource such as the Moon or a planet.
What does this mean? Well it means that governments can not appropriate the Moon or other celestial bodies. Effectively, governments have signed to the fact that they have no rights to these bodies at all. What is actually important here is what the Outer Space Treaty does not say. It explicitly does not say whether commercial enterprises or private individuals can claim, exploit or appropriate the celestial bodies for profit. (Note that the Lunar Embassy is not a government body.)
The United Nations and all countries that signed the Outer Space Treaty became aware of this vital omission almost immediately after the treaty was ratified in 1967. In fact, the United Nations have expended a large amount of time trying to ratify an amendment to the treaty ever since, that would explicitly include corporations and individuals. All attempts at ratifying such an amendment failed because member states did not agree with it. So, in the end, all the ratification attempts were summarized into the famous Moon Treaty some 15 years later. This information is a well documented fact today.
2. What is the Moon Treaty and why is it not law?
The Moon Treaty, had it been ratified, would have forbidden the exploitation of Space, the Moon and other celestial bodies for profit motives. According to the Moon treaty, individuals may not claim the Moon and other celestial bodies.
But, of all the 185 or so member states of the UN only six states supported it. All others, including all space faring nations (USA, UK, Russia, China etc) refused to sign it. This is something that does not seem to be well known. The USA explicitly refused to sign it as it would inhibit the exploitation of Lunar and other celestial resources for profit by corporations and individuals.
We feel that the non ratification of the Moon Treaty is a good thing. If it had been ratified and oil was found on the Moon; any company would by law be prohibited from mining it. Surely, that is not in the public's interest. (and if you find it on your property... well congratulations...you could be very rich!)
Here is what an historical website has to say about it:
"The Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies is the infamous "Moon Treaty". It was killed by a handful of L5 Society activists who were the first to see that it would outlaw property rights in the rest of the universe and indefinitely bog down space settlement in a "common heritage of all mankind" morass. When as a result of the L5 Society efforts the US congress failed to ratify the treaty, the USSR also breathed a sigh of relief. They likewise did not ratify. The soviets were so surprised at the impact of this relatively unknown organisation that they sent very obvious KGB members to chapter meetings in New York City to find out who they were. The Soviet Embassy in Washington DC subscribed to the L5 News for years afterwards."
The USA at the time said that they would prefer to see "How public opinion develops". Well it has. Many people on planet Earth, from all walks of life love owning a property on the Moon or a property on another celestial body such as Mars.
Many people also like to name stars, and this falls into the same category. However, there is only one body that has the authority to name stars/craters/stellar objects etc. and this is the IAU (The International Astronomical Union), and the many companies that claim they will name a star for you do name it, but this name is not officially recognized. So yes, in regard to naming stellar objects, the planet is pretty organised, however with regard to extraterrestrial property rights, it is a different matter.
3. What laws actually exist on the Moon, Mars or any other planets?
On the Moon itself or on any other planets apart from Earth, apart from the laws of the HEAD CHEESE, currently no law exists.
If we settle on the Moon and Mars for example, such laws must be established to ensure people's rights. Again, that can not be done unless ownership rights are addressed and settled. That is where all our customers and the Lunar Embassy have made a start at forming public opinion.
Others have suggested that it would be a good idea, when extraterrestrial claim laws are established, that they should be linked to the proximity of the individual to the property in question. That means if you have the money to go there, you can have it. The Lunar Embassy think this is not a good idea, because it would give precedence to corporations and financially capable organisations to file and receive an extraterrestrial property, because they can afford to go there. The normal member of the public would therefore loose out on any claims if such a suggestion were followed, because it is much more difficult for us mortals, physically and financially, to reach the Moon or the other eight planets.
It has therefore become an objective of the Lunar Embassy, if and when such laws are established, to help to protect the right of the general public to be allowed to claim and use these extraterrestrial resources, regardless of whether you are in proximity of the property or not.
4. Can I charge NASA if they land on my property?
No you can't. No celestial body is owned by NASA and they have never claimed them.
Further, the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which is law, clearly states that the Moon and the other celestial bodies are the heritage of all mankind for the purposes of exploration. So NASA can do what they like and where they like, as long as they are exploring. But if someone wants to build a house or drill for minerals or water on your property, that is quite a different issue altogether.
The Lunar Embassy and MoonEstates.com has never and will never sell a past or planned NASA landing site on any celestial body.
5. What guarantee do I have that you won't sell the same property twice?
This is a question that the Lunar Embassy, from whom we have purchased the land, are often asked. No property is sold twice. The land has been carefully mapped out and a database is held of all property registrations.
6. What if someone else tries to sell me land on the Moon?
Should anyone else claim to be selling Celestial Property in the United Kingdom, they are doing so in an unlawful manner and MoonEstates.com Ltd would like to be informed of such so that legal action can be taken.
7. So what about the future?
What guarantees are there? Will new laws be established? Well, so far, we are not aware of anyone trying to make them, nor are we aware of anyone who has the jurisdiction to make them.
What the future brings, we do not know...In short, there are no guarantees (except our 30 day money back guarantee of course). No one can see into the future.
8. And the most important point?
In all of that, let's not miss the most important point of all....and it specifically applies to the Moon: What is the Moon to us?
The Moon is a symbol of hope, romance, achievement and change, all rolled into one. There is nothing more symbolic and romantic on Earth one can give to a loved one. It is not a fad we can toy with, it is not something that will ever lose its appeal. When you buy your property on the Moon or any other planet, please enjoy it, because that is what this really is all about. You can look into the night sky and say 'I own a piece of that!'