“Can You Buy A Property On Moon: Legal Insight”

“With the population increasing at a rapid rate and the world getting more crowded, people are planning to shift to the moon in the coming future”. Well, this statement may seem strange but it’s actually not false. People have started buying land on the moon and to a greater degree, many Indian and Hollywood celebrities have bought their very own share of lunar land, hoping to seize their part before the nations do.

Lunar Embassy, a lunar land selling portal based in the US, is selling extra-terrestrial property to people from the past four decades. Despite this fact, the reality is contrasting as international treaties allows no nation to own the moon. According to the “Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies” or better known as ‘The Outer Space Treaty’, no one can buy a piece of land on the moon or other celestial bodies.

The Outer Space Treaty

On Jan. 27th, 1967, Soviet Union, United Kingdom and the United States, worked out a treaty together regarding the outer space revolutions. With all the great powers sitting opposite to the same table, an alarming situation was created as the power having celestial resources might have an edge over others or can use these for evil. So, all the sides agreed to sign “The Outer Space Treaty” which went into effect on 10th of October, 1967. As of February 2021, it has been signed by 111 nations including India, while another 23 have signed but have not completed the ratification process.

The major points covered under The Outer Space Treaty are that it restricts the moon and other celestial bodies for good purpose only, and provides that space can be explored by all the nations but only to the extent that no nation can claim sovereignty over any celestial body.

The Article II of The Outer Space Treaty states that, “Outer Space, including 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,”[1] It simply means that no nation can claim any right over the outer space bodies by any means as they are considered good for humans only.

The Loophole

Article II of the treaty clearly mentions about the nation’s ownership rights but is silent with regard to the claims made by an individual or a group of people. It does not provide any specific provision about the rights of private entities. Although Article VI[2] of the treaty talks about the nation’s liability for all the activities carried out by a government body or any non-government body but still does not mention anything particular about what sort of entities are included therein.

Analysing these loopholes, many individuals or groups have been selling land on the moon for decades. Dennis Hope, founder of Lunar Embassy has been selling properties on the moon and other celestial bodies for past 40 years making it a business worth million. Even Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the 39th, 40th and 41st President of the United States of America respectively, have bought their pieces of land from him, still the legal validity of such buying is null and void.

Since technology is growing each day and mankind is exploring the universe, it becomes the need of the hour to take some productive actions towards it. Hence, concrete laws and strict policies are needed to clear out the confusion in the matter.

[1] Resolutions adopted on the reports of First Commission, https://www.unoosa.org/pdf/gares/ARES_21_2222E.pdf.

[2] Ibid.


Satvik Garg

Amity Law School, Noida

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