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Old March 5 2014, 02:55 PM   #1
DarthTom
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Who owns the Moon? Legal question as billionaires launch into space

I saw the below on Huffington Post this morning and I think it's an interesting question. As more and more billionaires venture into space travel - what's stopping them from vast amounts of real estate on the Moon?

Could someone like Richard Branson essentially claim squatters rights on the Moon?

Will someone own the moon one day? It may seem like a pretty important question, but no one seems to have the answer.
For now, no one has legal ownership over the moon. According to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, the moon is not the property of any state, national or international government or organization, or any one entity.
“The legal status of the moon is currently defined by the 1967 Outer Space Treaty of the United Nations," Dr. Ian Crawford, a professor of planetary science at the Birkbeck University of London, told BBC Radio. But that may soon change.
“There is a strong case for developing international law in this area because in 1967 it was not envisaged that anyone other than nation states would be able to explore the moon," Crawford added. "So clearly that is changing now and there is a case for developing the outer space treaty to include private organizations that may wish to exploit the moon or possibly space tourism is likely to happen.”
This is a hot topic since our moon contains many resources, such as rare minerals and the helium-3 isotope, which is an important gas that allows for the production of energy. Whoever has rights to the moon will also have access to those resources.
The 1967 treaty about this subject leaves the door wide open for a large corporation to claim property rights on the Moon:

Article VI says that non-governmental organisations have to be supervised by their nation states. The treaty says nothing about those non-governmental actors claiming property rights, however. “It doesn’t prohibit them, it doesn’t allow them. It’s completely silent,” says Joanne Gabrynowicz, a professor emerita of space law at the University of Mississippi who acts as an official observer to the UN effort to oversee the legal framework governing use of space.
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Old March 5 2014, 03:26 PM   #2
clint g
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Re: Who owns the Moon? Legal question as billionaires launch into spa

I've wondered about this as well. I think what it comes down to is whoever can take and hold on to the territory, regardless of what the UN says. It's sort of like "international law". It's written on paper, but if you can't enforce it then who cares?
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Old March 5 2014, 03:46 PM   #3
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Re: Who owns the Moon? Legal question as billionaires launch into spa

^^^ In other words the first person or world government that can put the lasers on the moon to fire back?

We need a old style Bond villain e.g. Spectre or Drax who's got a shit pot full of money to really ramp up the moon's colonization sooner rather than later.

I'm guessing someone like Richard Branson or Bill Gates is just too much of a nice guy to fire back and/or weaponize the Moon.
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Old March 5 2014, 03:47 PM   #4
Robert Maxwell
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Re: Who owns the Moon? Legal question as billionaires launch into spa

What do we need to colonize the Moon for?
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Old March 5 2014, 03:51 PM   #5
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Re: Who owns the Moon? Legal question as billionaires launch into spa

Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
What do we need to colonize the Moon for?
For starters, tourism for the rich. If wealthy people are willing to pay a lot of money to go into low earth orbit they'd pay a hell of a lot more to stay at the first Four Seasons on Luna I'd imagine.
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Old March 5 2014, 05:41 PM   #6
sojourner
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Re: Who owns the Moon? Legal question as billionaires launch into spa

Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
What do we need to colonize the Moon for?

For a penal colony! DUH!

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Old March 5 2014, 06:18 PM   #7
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Re: Who owns the Moon? Legal question as billionaires launch into spa

sojourner wrote: View Post
Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
What do we need to colonize the Moon for?

For a penal colony! DUH!

"Women are scarce; aren't enough to go around that makes them most valuable thing in Luna, more precious than ice or air, as men without women don't care whether they stay alive or not."

Unrelated to above:
"Some would say that the Earth is our moon."
"We're the moon."
"But that would belittle the name of our moon, which is: The Moon."
"Point is: we're at the center, not you."
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Old March 5 2014, 06:25 PM   #8
billcosby
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Re: Who owns the Moon? Legal question as billionaires launch into spa

They would need to stay there to claim it. That's the trick.
The only possible way that could currently be done is with armed drones patrolling the surface.
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Old March 5 2014, 06:36 PM   #9
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Re: Who owns the Moon? Legal question as billionaires launch into spa

billcosby wrote: View Post
They would need to stay there to claim it. That's the trick.
Yeah. If some billionaire wants to start building a house on the moon, let him have it. He deserves the moon if he's willing to go that far.
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Old March 5 2014, 07:10 PM   #10
Timelord Victorious
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Re: Who owns the Moon? Legal question as billionaires launch into spa

RoJoHen wrote: View Post
billcosby wrote: View Post
They would need to stay there to claim it. That's the trick.
Yeah. If some billionaire wants to start building a house on the moon, let him have it. He deserves the moon if he's willing to go that far.
Don't let it be an old, grumpy American gun nut, though. They tend to shoot teenage trespassers with their rifles!
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Old March 5 2014, 07:11 PM   #11
Robert Maxwell
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Re: Who owns the Moon? Legal question as billionaires launch into spa

The only trespasser they have on the Moon would be the mighty moon worm.
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Old March 5 2014, 07:23 PM   #12
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Re: Who owns the Moon? Legal question as billionaires launch into spa

billcosby wrote: View Post
They would need to stay there to claim it. That's the trick.
The only possible way that could currently be done is with armed drones patrolling the surface.
BTW, how exactly would projectile weapons work in the low gravity environment on the moon and in a vacuum? Probably not nearly as well.

Never mind found the answer:

First, we know that the bullet has the same initial velocity on the moon as it does on the Earth--that is, it exits the gun at the same speed. But as soon as it leaves the gun, it's a different story. First, the moon bullet doesn't have to contend with air resistance--with so little friction, it can maintain its speed longer than the Earth bullet can (it's analogous to shooting a hockey puck across ice, which has very little friction, and shooting across sand, which has a lot of friction. The puck will travel a lot farther on the ice!)
Now, there is the issue of gravity. Assuming your bullet doesn't hit anything (a pretty safe bet on the moon, but don't try this on Earth!) and forgetting about air restistance, the time it takes for the bullet to fall to the ground depends on its initial velocity, the angle at which you shoot it, and the force of gravity.
You can use some basic physics to figure out how far the bullet will fly horizontally and vertically. Say you fire it at some angle "a" (a=0 degrees would correspond to shooting it straight in front of you; 90 degrees corresponds to shooting it straight up). It turns out that the bullet's horizontal range--the total distance it travels before gravity wrestles it to the ground--is given by the equation:
R = v^2 * sin (2a) / g
g is a measure of the strength of gravity. On Earth, it is 9.8 m/s^2. To find g on the moon, we need another equation:
g = G*M/r^2
Now G called the gravitational contstant, M is the mass of the moon, and r is the radius of the moon. Anyway, on the moon,
g = 1.6 m/s^2
So, neglecting air resistance, the bullet will go about 6 times farther on the moon than on Earth. Once you take air resistance into account, the moon bullet has an even bigger advantage!
You might also ask, if the bullet were fired straight up, could it actually escape the moon's gravitational pull and fly off into space? To answer this, we have to compare the moon's "escape velocity" (the minimum velocity an object needs to esscape the moon's gravity) to the bullet's initial velocity. The moon's escape velocity is about 2.38 km/s, but a bullet typically travels at only 1 km/s. So take cover--even in this case, what goes up must come down!
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Old March 5 2014, 07:29 PM   #13
Robert Maxwell
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Re: Who owns the Moon? Legal question as billionaires launch into spa

DarthTom wrote: View Post
billcosby wrote: View Post
They would need to stay there to claim it. That's the trick.
The only possible way that could currently be done is with armed drones patrolling the surface.
BTW, how exactly would projectile weapons work in the low gravity environment on the moon and in a vacuum? Probably not nearly as well.
Guns work just fine in space. In fact, bullets would travel farther because there's no air resistance.
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Old March 5 2014, 07:31 PM   #14
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Re: Who owns the Moon? Legal question as billionaires launch into spa

[rant]

It bothers me when people post quotes, but don't provide links to where the text came from.

[/rant]
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Old March 5 2014, 07:50 PM   #15
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Re: Who owns the Moon? Legal question as billionaires launch into spa

A couple of things are certain, as I read this thought-provoking thread:

Drax could work...plus, his Babes were H-O-T
Billionaires, and, most likely, Branson, will have something to do with the Moon
In the case of the Moon, possession is 9/10ths...until a government entity takes it away
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