MARKET COMMENTARY

Divvying Up the Moon

With companies and countries planning to make earth’s natural satellite their next stop, the chances of a “moon grab” are rising.

03.30.2020 - Fiduciary Trust Canada

It’s been over 50 years since the first moon landing, and until 2017, going back wasn’t much of a priority. Now, thanks to the American government’s directive to “send humans to the moon and establish a sustainable presence there” by 2024,1 there’s a wave of renewed interest. Private companies are helping NASA develop plans for a lunar space station, as well as exploring their own commercial opportunities.

But as several corporations and countries—including China, Luxembourg and the United Arab Emirates2—plan lunar missions, a thorny question arises. How will we divvy up the moon? It’s possible a private corporation, like SpaceX or Bigelow, may establish a lunar colony before NASA does. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, for example, has unveiled plans to settle on the moon as soon as 2023.3 Companies want to mine (for both water and precious materials), harness solar energy, and send our remains to the moon.4 It may even become a way station, used to launch rockets and satellites further into the solar system. NASA is exploring ways to use reusable THE WAY AHEAD rockets and landers, which has given rise to the (still far-fetched) notion of “space tourism.” As countries and corporations visit the moon’s surface repeatedly, who and how do we determine property rights?

Some suggest things could get tricky. “International regulations may not be enough to stop a roving band of wellsupplied settlers from making a moon grab,” write Tim Robustelli and Dennis Wille in Slate.5 Some say The Outer Space Treaty, signed in 1967, prohibits anyone—country, corporation, or private citizen—from owning land in space. Other legislation says people have the right to mine resources from outer space.6 It may take governmental oversight, from various nations, to ensure peaceful settlement outside Earth’s atmosphere.

In the meantime, all this uncertainty means you can “buy” a piece of lunar real estate for just a few dollars, through the Lunar Embassy.7 It is, as they say, a real steal.

 

 

 

 

1. Nola Taylor Redd, “Will Private Companies Beat NASA to the Moon?” Space.com, July 31, 2019, https://www.space.com/nasa-private-companies-moon-race.html.

2. Tim Robustelli and David Wille, “Someday We’ll Have to Deal with Squatters in Space,” Slate, July 5, 2019, https://slate.com.

3. Tim Robustelli and David Wille, “Someday We’ll Have to Deal with Squatters in Space.”

4. Rivka Galchen, “The Race to Develop the Moon,” The New Yorker, April 29, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/05/06/the-race-to-develop-the-moon.

5. Tim Robustelli and David Wille, “Someday We’ll Have to Deal with Squatters in Space.”

6. “Race to Make Moon Earth’s Eighth Continent,” The Day, January 4, 2019, https://the day.co.uk/stories/race-to-make-moon-earth-s-eigth-continent.

7. “Lunar Embassy,” www.lunarembassy.com.

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