Thursday, September 08, 2011
NASA Looks at Lunar Property Rights
NASA managers are working on internal plans to protect the Apollo lunar landing “heritage sites” from potential damage from future visiting spacecraft – such as the Google Lunar X PRIZE (GLXP) vehicles – listing a long set of recommendations on keep-out zones, reports NASA Spaceflight.
If NASA proceeds to develop "keep-out zones" or "exclusion zones", no-fly zones for descent/landing vehicles, etc. around a number of sites, including Apollo landing sites, Surveyor sites, and S-IV B impact sites, on the surface of the moon for future explorers, it appears the space agency is seeking to create a surface property right on the moon.
The possibility of a NASA "keep-out zones" raises the specter of possible government action to claim a property right, perhaps creating a conundrum in international law, e.g. the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. Three years ago, Popular Mechanics looked at the unusual legal problem.