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Who owns the Moon? Some countries claim they do...

Por: Ecoo sfera6 de diciembre de 2022

Can the Moon belong to anyone? This is a question that has a short but diffuse answer.

Who owns the Moon, a somewhat chilling question that arises from the increased activity in space that has been on the rise since the space race began when the Soviet Union succeeded in launching the first satellite into space. Since then, many countries have reached the Earth’s natural satellite via capsules, so the question suddenly arises, can the Moon belong to anyone? A question that has a short but diffuse answer.

Currently, the flags of two countries hang unfurled on the lunar soil, metal cables hold the banners that have been erroneously said to fly in the lunar atmosphere, which, for practical purposes, does not exist. The United States and China are the only two nations that have managed to place their flags on the Moon. The former by merit for having taken the first man to the natural satellite and the latter for having initiated its lunar exploration activities without the collaboration of any other country.

Seeing the image of both flags on the satellite makes us wonder who owns the Moon, a somewhat chilling question.

The Outer Space Treaty

Ownership is a common occurrence on our planet, starting with countries that are well-demarcated geographically, but there is also private ownership. With lunar exploration increasing and with the United States landing on the Moon with a manned mission underway, space ownership is a question that is up in the air. Can any state or any person claim ownership of the Moon? The answer is a bit fuzzy as there have been those who have boasted of owning the Moon, but fortunately, it is not that simple.

In 1966, the United Nations Legal Subcommittee discussed at length a treaty on space activities. It should be remembered that the 1960s marked the consummation of the space race, although it certainly began in 1956 with the launching into the orbit of the first artificial satellite, the Soviet Sputnik. But it was not until 1969 that the United States succeeded in putting the first humans on lunar soil.

The UN became aware of the advances in space exploration technology and saw a great deal of activity on the part of different nations, so it launched the Outer Space Treaty, which stipulates the basis of space law and states that no state or person can claim ownership of celestial bodies. In the words of the UN, the treaty provides the framework for the “principles that should govern the activities of States in the exploration and use of outer space.”

The owner of the Moon

Today there is no human habitation on the Moon, but NASA and other countries, such as Russia and China, have the plan to establish a semi-permanent human base on lunar soil. This further complicates the question of whether in the future any state can become the owner of the Moon, because as long as there is no human presence no one can directly claim ownership, but if there is an occupation the situation becomes more complicated.

In this regard, Article II of the Outer Space Treaty stipulates:

“Outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, shall not be subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, use or occupation, or in any other manner.”

The treaty clearly stipulates that even if any country were to occupy the Moon, it cannot claim it as its own. Therefore, the owner of the Moon does not exist, even though some boast of owning it and even dare to sell property on it.

Story originally published in Spanish in Ecoosfera

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