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If No One Owns the Moon, Can Anyone Make Money Up There?

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To make these pursuits easier, Luxembourg passed a space law that took effect this summer. Revising Space LawAmbiguities in the Outer Space Treaty currently create uncertainty over whether anyone can profit from such business ventures.

Article II in particular states, “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.”

If the United States is prohibited from appropriating a celestial body, is a private company allowed to appropriate a mineral mined out of a celestial body? The Moon Treaty, finalized in 1979, declared that any resources from space should be shared among all nations, but most countries, including the United States, never signed or ratified it.

Two years ago, Congress passed and President Obama signed a law that said private companies can own and sell what they extract abiding by the language of the Outer Space Treaty, the companies cannot claim ownership of the celestial body itself.

Republicans in Congress have said they want the new space ventures to thrive in “Permissionless innovation,” similar to the ethos that nourished new enterprises on the internet.

Officials at Moon Express and Planetary Resources say they do not want unfettered freedom in space, nor do they seek withdrawal from the Outer Space Treaty.

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Article originally posted at www.nytimes.com

Post Author: Maria Temming

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