Property Law in Outer Space

by PropertyBlawg on May 28, 2012

  • Sumo

There are a plethora of websites, which offer to sell property rights in lunar and other celestial real estate. These have become ever more popular in the modern ‘e-commerce’ era and given the looming holidays it can be presumed that a number of individuals will be receiving a gift of a star or acres of land on the Moon or even Mars.

This was highlighted in 2008 when a UK hotel chain announced its plans to build, within twenty-five years a hotel on the moon. The company claimed that it had bought an option to purchase a 43,500 square foot sit on a defined area of the moon. This was the first claim by a large corporation to have a contractual right to land on the moon.

Hotels in space are not a new idea. The first sold proposal came from Hilton International in the 1960’s, its intention being to build an orbital hotel out of spent launcher fuel tanks. Others have followed. At present Bigelow Aerospace have plans for an inflatable orbital hotel. The Galactic Suite Project, operating out of Barcelona, proposes a chain of orbital hotels at circa 300 miles up.

Although the ideas highlighted in the journal above are fraught with the technical difficulties of getting them off the ground, they are however, not out with the law.

The claim by Premier Inn was that they had a real right to a section of land on the moon. As stated above, the Outer Space Treaty strictly forbids states from claiming any sovereign right, i.e. ownership of any part of any lunar or celestial body. The principle being that, if a state cannot make claim to property, then a private claim is impotent given that there is no legal recourse to assert their purported right.

To date, there has only been one attempt to try and assert ownership of a celestial body. The American case of Nemitz v The United States of America considered the legality of an individual claiming his ownership over an asteroid.

To read more, please see the full original blog post “Space Law; Explored” on YouBlawg as published by Graham Kerr, who is a recent LLB Graduate, is currently managing director of Legal Media Solutions and who is setting up a new program developed specifically to help those trying to find a traineeship in Scotland.



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