Who Owns the Moon?


Who Owns the Moon?
Donald Trump’s Space Force idea has started a big conversation about the laws that govern space and who has jurisdiction over space crimes. Maria Pozza, New Zealand’s only space lawyer, helps to clear a few things up.

When it comes to space matters, it’s usually a case of international law. Talking to Radio New Zealand, Dr Pozza said, “We’ve got quite a lot of international law that applies to activities in outer space.”

New Zealand is particularly key in space law because of its unique placement on the globe.

So who owns the moon?

Nobody, apparently.

“This general idea that it is there for everyone but belongs to no one despite perhaps some territorial claims or argument that there is some extent or extension of territory over them, space is there for everyone and belongs to no one,” Dr Pozza told RNZ.

Unlike earth property, space has no fences or boundary lines. Aka, as Dr Pozza puts it, “In actual fact there is no formal demarcation as to where air or air law ends and where space or … space law begins. A lot of nation-states tend to adopt an informal demarcation line of 100km [altitude].”

Because there is no formal boundary it is hard to say where space law begins.

Which raises the question that if an aircraft could go into the low earth orbit, would it be seen as a spacecraft or an aircraft? And what law would apply to it?

Who rules on space crimes?

Dr. Pozza was also able to shed some light on this question.

“It’s going to depend where your rocket’s launched from, so if you’re sitting on a rocket and it’s launched from, let’s say New Zealand, then it’s likely that the New Zealand law will apply.

“Once you get to the international space station, now you’re getting into a whole different kettle of fish and a can of worms there, because the international space station is owned by varying and different countries.”

Donald Trump’s ‘Space Force’ and the use of weapons in space…

What attracted Dr. Pozza to space law was the debate of weapons in space, which there is very little information or law on. But no doubt, with President Trump’s new ‘Space Force’ idea, this will soon become a hot topic of conversation. But Dr. Pozza reassures RNZ (and the rest of the world) that whatever he wants to do, he’ll be bound by international law and it’ll have to be in compliance with this.


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