Who owns the Moon?

Inspired by a question on Aardvark

The short answer is that nobody does, and for the time being nobody can.

In 1967 the United Nations published the Outer Space Treaty. As of the beginning of 2008, this had been ratified by 98 states, with a further 27 in the ratification process. The treaty explicitly states that "the exploration of outer space shall be done to benefit all countries and shall be free for exploration and use by all States" and, more relevantly to this post, that "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."

But you can buy Moon land! Someone must own it!
It is true that you can buy deeds for an acre of Moon land and also for an acre of Mars. The sellers of these deeds point out that the Outer Space Treaty, as mention above, makes comment only about States, by which is means governments and countries, but does not mention private owners and entrepreneurs. This is the famous 'loophole' by which ownership of the Moon and other celestial bodies has been 'claimed' by a small number of private individuals.

Unfortunately for them, most States (governments, countries, kingdoms, etc) have corollaries to their land ownership laws that mean for somebody to claim ownership of a territory a simple claim is not enough. They must be able to demonstrate 'intent to occupy' which is something that, for the vast majority of people including governments and countries is very difficult, if not currently impossible, to achieve.

The long and the short of these Moon and Mars acres is that the certificates of ownership have no more than novelty value to them; no government or organisation has granted them any kind of legal validity.


  1. Interesting stuff. Those deeds for the moon are kind of like those naming a star things, right?

  2. Yeah, they're generally on the same shelf. I have two acres of Moon land and a star! I'm not sure about the legality/ validity of the star namings. I'll have to do some research...

  3. I heard the star names were all a load of crap. Everyone knows that real star names are stuff like ZX512ALPHA. ;)


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