Friday, December 12, 2008

io9: Moon’s Future Lies in Frontier Homesteading, Not Collective Ownership

Lauren Davis, from io9, has this to say:
According to a prominent researcher on the subject, lunar property rights should be strictly first come, first served.... 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. ... He also challenges the notion that homesteading will favor citizens of wealthy nations, whose public and private enterprises have the resources and technology to travel into space ... Pop’s ultimate concern is that, without the development of a legal framework for lunar property rights, the moon will remain largely undeveloped. But, with more and more private companies looking into space travel, it may be a necessary to establish rights for private systems simply to ensure that laws are in place before the first settlers stake their claims. If the international community can develop a cohesive and enforceable framework, it could help keep the lunar frontier from descending into the wild West.