Who Owns the Moon?

Companies (including Virgin Galactic) and private investors alike are lining up at the next frontier -- profits in lunar travel and commerce. As discussed in a recent Salon article by Elizabeth Svoboda, space travel and lunar exploration, once the exclusive domain of a few countries, is increasingly within the reach of enterprising companies and individuals. The moon is rich in platinum metals and helium-3, substances with great potential as renewable energy resources; prospectors anticipate that these resources will be parcelled out on a first-come, first-served basis.

Those wanting a part of the action can purchase an acre of moon land from the "Lunar Embassy" for only $19.99. Legal experts point out that property law on the moon is unsettled ,at best. International space law has not been amended since 1967, a time when space commerce was unheard of. With the Google Lunar X-Prize and other private ventures stretching into the cosmos, this likely marks the very beginning of a new property regime -- and perhaps a new land grab as well.

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