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Lecture 8

Geography 2090A/B Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Anousheh Ansari, Beforu (Album)

Course Code
GEOG 2090A/B

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Lecture 8 - Space Business, Space Law, Space Tourism
National Sovereignty
Nations own their territory, but how far does that ownership extend?
Mineral rights extend sovereignty underground, as far as we can drill (a few
kilometers), and in theory perhaps to the center of the Earth
Nations also exercise sovereignty over their 'air space', the atmosphere directly
above their territories
Sovereignty has also been extended into the sea (e.g. Hibernia oil field). But it
doesn't reach above the atmosphere, initially because nobody could go there and
then because orbital flight cannot be confined within national borders
So sovereignty may be thought of as extending from the center of the Earth to the
upper atmosphere, usually taken to be about 100 km high
oBeyond that, different laws apply
United Nations Treaties
The United Nations has drawn up a series of treaties to govern space activities
First, they banned nuclear weapon tests in space (both the US and the USSR
initially considered exploding nuclear weapons on the Moon as a way of proving
they had reached it)
Next they insisted that space activities be conducted for the benefit of all nations,
not just the two superpowers
Various other treaties cover liability for falling satellites and so on!
The last treaty, the infamous 'Moon Treaty', asserts that lunar resources are 'the
common heritage of mankind' and should be developed under the control of an
international body. No major spacefaring nation has agreed to this last treaty.
Owning the Moon
In the last four decades various organizations including the Astronomical Society
of the Pacific have 'sold' lunar land to raise money, but only as a novelty without a
real claim of ownership
More recently, true claims of ownership have been made. The quote above
disallows national claims, but apparently not individual claims (in fact this is not
true... the treaty requires states to impose its obligations on their citizens)
oOn the basis of that 'loophole', one company called Lunar Embassy has
claimed to own the Moon and sells deeds to parcels of land
oAnother approach is favoured by The Lunar Republic, a group seeking to
return to the Moon to build a colony; They argue that only the actual
occupation of land grants the right to ownership
They have licensed a company, The Lunar Registry, to sell 'claims' to property,
which would become legally owned when the colony is established but not tested
in court
Similarly, Gregory Nemitz of Orbdev claimed to own asteroid 433 Eros, and
charged NASA a 'parking fee' when its NEAR spacecraft landed on it in 2001.
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