With Indian, Chinese, and Japanese spacecraft now orbiting the moon and the US and Japan planning to build lunar bases, it’s only a matter of time before disputes arise over who has a right to build on and mine the moon and where. The UN’s so-called Moon Treaty declares that the moon is part of mankind’s common heritage, and would ban ownership of any extraterrestrial party, but the treaty has never passed and has not been ratified by any nation with a space program.
According to Virgiliu Pop, that’s all for the best, since the UN has the wrong idea. Pop is a Romanian space lawyer who has written extensively on the topic of lunar property. His latest book Who Owns the Moon? Extraterrestrial Aspects of Land and Mineral Resources, Pop explores the possibility of creating a legal framework for property and natural resources law on the moon. At the heart of this exploration is the notion that energetic individuals, rather than international coalitions, will need to claim property in order to advance the cause of extraterrestrial colonization:
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