Saturday, January 19, 2008 Who owns the moon?

Elizabeth Svoboda from interviewed me for an article on extraterrestrial property rights (

Unsurprisingly, most space law experts reject Hope's claims. Ram Jakhu, a space lawyer at McGill University, thinks Hope made a mistake in assuming the Moon Treaty's demise made his venture legitimate. In fact, the Outer Space Treaty, ratified by the United States and 97 other nations, already covers all the necessary bases because its prohibition against government space property ownership applies to individual citizens as well. "The Outer Space Treaty is public law, and as such, private citizens are subject to it," Jakhu says. "It doesn't matter if you go and put your own flag up there. The treaty is very clear and broad and denies the claims of any property owners." Virgiliu Pop, a member of the International Institute of Space Law and author of "Unreal Estate: The Men Who Sold the Moon," agrees. "People like Dennis Hope have no legitimate basis whatsoever for what they are doing. If states cannot appropriate extraterrestrial realms, neither can their nationals." Hope fires back by dismissing their dismissals. "That has no credence. That's just their opinion. We don't need the recognition of the world."