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Who owns the moon? Just a couple years before Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon, there was a landmark treaty that stipulated how world powers would approach that very question. The Outer Space Treaty, as it is known today, laid out the foundations of space exploration and was signed by the U.S., the Soviet Union and the UK. Importantly, the treaty stated the vast realms of outer space are the "province of mankind." Over 102 countries have signed the treaty since then. It also included important provisions like banning nuclear weapons testing it space.
Still, countries and corporations are vying for power in space. Manmade objects launched from Earth can still be owned and privately controlled. This includes satellites, mining equipment, and, even something like a hotel. We may very well likely see a rise in commercialization in the near future. In 2014, Bigelow Aerospace became the first corporation to apply for a license to mine on the moon. President Barack Obama also signed the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, a piece of legislation that essentially paves the away for commercial mining on asteroids. Undoubtedly, the future of space law will become more complex in the years to come-a thought that's just as thrilling as it is somewhat terrifying.
Outer Space Treaty - 1967 (history.nasa.gov)
"Treaty on principles governing the activities of states in the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies."
Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (unoosa.org)
"The Outer Space Treaty was considered by the Legal Subcommittee in 1966 and agreement was reached in the General Assembly in the same year ( resolution 2222 (XXI))."
Hard Cheese (economist.com)
"WHO owns the Moon? According to the United Nations Outer Space Treaty, signed by every space-faring country, no nation can claim sovereignty over Earth's lunar satellite."
Asteroid mining made legal after Barack Obama gives US citizens the right to own parts of celestial bodies (independent.co.uk)
"Private companies can now mine asteroids, after Barack Obama signed a major law that reverses decades of space law."