General Question

JackAdams's avatar

Is the MOON the "property" of the USA? Does our nation own it?

Asked by JackAdams (6497points) September 10th, 2008

We were the first nation to land human beings there, and the American flag was in fact planted there, so is the Moon, technically speaking, American soil?

(I hope this question hasn’t previously been asked, because I did look for it, before posting it.)

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20 Answers

marissa's avatar

I don’t think it could legally belong to the US, because it is not settled. Yes, we landed on it, but we did not stay and settle it. Just putting a flag on it doesn’t qualify. I am basing my answer on the rules applied to ‘settling’ the west and laying a claim on land.

bodyhead's avatar

There was one guy who was selling plots of land on the moon. I think he was selling it for pennies an acre. He got rich but I don’t think it will hold up in court.


JackAdams's avatar

But can anyone sell something that they do not personally own?

wildflower's avatar

Victor Lustig seemed to think so…..

as for the actual question: even though I remember hearing a joke about the Russians beating the Americans in the race to the moon and painting the moon red to mark their territory, to which the Americans responded by painting a giant white swirl and the words “Coca Cola”, I don’t think the US has any claim on the moon – other than being the first we know of to visit (if you ignore the strings that are visible in the footage)

boxing's avatar

Who owns the moon? I think we have to answer who owns Antarctica first. In other words, I believe the international community will handle land claims in the moon much the same way it handles Antarctica, which is currently governed under the 1959 Antarctic Treaty (signed by 45 nations so far), which suspended claims for territory and designated Antarctica as “a continent for science,” and only used for peaceful purposes.

boxing's avatar

great question by the way.

marissa's avatar

great answer boxing :0)

Harp's avatar

A treaty called The Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies was drafted in 1979. It effectively hands the moon over to international jurisdiction and subjgates it to UN legal authority.

Here are 2 of its provisions:

Bans any state from claiming sovereignty over any territory of celestial bodies.

Bans any ownership of any extraterrestrial property by any organization or person, unless that organization is international and governmental.

The problem is that it’s only binding on the ratifying parties, and only 13 states have signed it, none of whom have autonomous manned space programs.

The net result is that there is currently no effective agreement in place.


JackAdams's avatar

That means it is “up for grabs,” I guess.

sarapnsc's avatar

Wow, great question…never knew this information.

stratman37's avatar


JackAdams's avatar

As usual, you have written a “winning” answer, Stratman.

stratman37's avatar

Don’t make me moon you, Jack.

JackAdams's avatar

Oh dear…

Another LUNAR-tic remark…

tWrex's avatar

I own it! Fawk the US! It’s mine foo! Me and Mr. T took it over! We hacked the WoW server to do it!

sacaver's avatar

So I suppose that treaty would also apply to asteroids? Or would you need to claim sovereignty over an asteroid to mine resources? Of course, you need to assume such resources exist and there’s an economic incentive to go after them.

JackAdams's avatar

My question was prompted by the traditional practice that:

1. The discoverer of a land mass has the privilege of naming it, and,

2. A flag is planted into the soil of the first-visited land, and the flag-planter says, in his/her native language, something similar to, “I hereby claim this land on behalf of the citizens of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which she stands, One Nation, under…”

Are those things no longer done?

sacaver's avatar

I don’t think that is done anymore, as there’s no other useful land to go after on the Earth that’s not already been claimed, other than Antarctica. I would imagine that when the economics of the time become such that Moon resources are needed, then the land grab will start.

Reminds me of that Eddie Izzard bit:
“Do you have a flag?”

JackAdams's avatar

@sacaver: Are you referring to this?

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