The 1967 Outer Space Treaty explicitly states that 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 any other means.” Today, some lawyers argue that clause (known as ”Article II”) prohibits private property as well. Yet, that is not the way the Treaty was interpreted at the time.

Dr. Stephen Gorove was  an early leader in the field of space law. Dr. Gorove founded the Journal of Space Law and the National Center for Remote Sensing, Air, and Space Law. Among his other accomplishments, Dr. Gorove addressed the first Space Law Congress at The Hague in 1958 and represented the American Society of International Law before the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space for many years.

In 1969, Dr. Stephen Gorove published an article on ”Interpreting Article II of the Outer Space Treaty.” The article, which was an elaboration of remarks which Dr. Gorove made to the 19th Congress of the International Astronautical Federation in October 1968, stated in part:

Turning to the second question, which involves the meaning of “national” appropriation, it has been suggested that only the United Nations acting on behalf of the world community as a whole should be entitled to appropriate. While further developments in space law, by international custom or treaty, may eventually prohibit spatial appropriations by an individual or a chartered company or the European communities, the Treaty in its present form appears to contain no prohibition regarding individual appropriation or acquisition by a private association or an international organization, even if other than the United Nations. Thus, at present, an individual acting on his own behalf or on behalf of another individual or a private association or an international organization could lawfully appropriate any part of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies.

The United Nations apparently agreed with Dr. Gorove on this, since it later drafted the Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, better known as the Moon Treaty, to address private appropriation – a further development, as Dr. Gorove put it. The Moon Treaty, however, was never ratified by the United States or any major spacefaring nation and has not come into force.

Written by Astro1 on October 14th, 2012 , Space Policy and Management

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    ken anthony commented

    It’s all clown talk.

    October 23, 2012 at 7:03 am