Owning part of the moon may seem like a funny idea at first, but seemingly possible a little later when you come to learn about the corporations currently selling property on it. So, now that there are companies purportedly exclusively dealing with outer space land, is it actually possible to buy land on the moon? Can you promise your lover the moon and actually buy it?
As controversial as it may sound, the answer is No. You can buy a piece of paper that supposedly makes you a moon landowner, but you can never actually legally own the land. Here’s why:
Outer Space Treaty
The Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in The Exploration and Use of Outer Space was signed in 1967 to regulate outer space activities of all countries. Two of its articles, namely IV and II, explicitly address the issue of owning land on the moon and other celestial planets. They respectively state:
“Parties to the treaty shall bear international responsibility for national activities in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, whether such activities are carried on by governmental agencies or by non-governmental entities”
“Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.”
Strangely enough, this UN treaty was not inclusive of individual claim of ownership. Some lawyers (yeah, as strange as it may seem, there are space lawyers) have consequently argued that individuals who are not representing any nation may go ahead to claim property ownership on the moon and subsequently reserve the rights to sell it. Additionally, as they further claim, by the virtue of not being a member of the United Nations, an individual or corporate can exclude himself/herself from the treaty.
So, doesn’t that seem to settle it? Fortunately or unfortunately, the answer is still No. There are still other elements to consider on celestial property buying.
Moon and Space Deeds Legalities
Indeed, celestial property agencies have created a lot of fuss about buying property on the moon. The Lunar Embassy for instance, claimed that they sell more than 200 acres of land on a regular basis. According to their boss Dennis Hope, the company has supplied more than 5.7 million deeds at a rate of about 2.2 properties per individual across the galaxy. Going by their rate of $20-$25 per acre, that totals to about $6-$12 billion worth of celestial land — with owners only getting a piece of paper as proof of ownership
Unfortunately for buyers, that deed doesn’t actually make you a legal moon-land property owner- since the seller cannot prove how he/she came legally into possession of the property to gain the right to legally transfer it to you. Lunar Embassy claimed to have gained possession in 1980, but so did a host of other individuals, including a five Geneva citizens in 1966, Oklahoma City in 1965, and a Chilean poet in 1954.
Basically, lunar property sellers have a lot of animus, with no corpus. They may claim to own the moon, but they can’t exhibit any form of property control like demarcation, flags, or any land appropriation type — which is a critical property ownership requirement.