40 years ago, US citizen Mr. Dennis Hope declared himself the owner of all space objects in the Solar System, generously leaving the Earth and the Sun in common use.
Since then, extraterrestrial real estate has become a commodity, and the phrase "Darling, I will give you the moon" has ceased to be just a figure of speech of new pick-up artists. How much a lunar or Martian costs and how it is legal is another matter. But a little later about it.
Space is a commodity, whether we like it or not. And this product is very profitable. And now we are not talking about scientific value, but about quite real things: fossils, resources, soil.
Leave romantic thoughts such as outer space belongs to all of humanity! This is nothing more than a slogan. A marketing move that only increases consumer interest in goods and services. And this move is working right now, helping to sell science fiction novels, to fill cinemas with viewers at the premieres of space blockbusters.
Humans are a mercenary and cynical creatures. In addition to romance and curiosity, this pushes them to develop new lands. The pioneers are, of course, passionaries, but after them conquistadors and businessmen always appear. For several millennia, during which there was a civilization, people only did what they tried to get to any land in order to stick the flag of their state, the family coat of arms, or a stick with their own initials into it. To take a piece of land.
In the end, the free land ended.
Only Antarctica remained free, which seems to be common, but actually it is nobody's. However, it is assumed that its development for commercial purposes is only a matter of time. The seabed is also partly divided between countries. Just enough to recall the struggle for the Cyprus shelf.
There remains space. The universe is infinite, but the territory that will soon be really reached is not so great. Moon, Mars, Venus, possibly asteroids. So, the famous Gagarin phrase "Let's go!" opened not only the path to the stars, but also launched a new era of conquest.
1969 was one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. Do you remember what Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin did first when they walked on the moon? They put the US flag.
On December 18, 1979, the UN adopted the "Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies."
The agreement extends international law to the Moon and all other celestial bodies, except for the Earth, including the orbits around these bodies, and also proclaims the principle of exclusively peaceful use of the Moon and other celestial bodies, the principle of equal rights of all states to research celestial bodies, the principle of inadmissibility of claims from any states to extend their sovereignty to any celestial body.
It would seem that everything is decided. The question is closed, but why then now, in the third decade of the twenty-first century, are the countries again seized by space fever?
Space powers are vying with each other to announce ambitious lunar and Martian projects.
It turned out that everything was not so clear in the agreement. International law treats this issue ambiguously.
The agreement entered into force only in a few states that have ratified it. Moreover, among them there are no members of the G7, a permanent member of the UN Security Council or a state with their own space program.
On April 6, 2020, US President Donald Trump signed a decree approving the commercial development of resources on the Moon and the planets of the solar system.
According to the text of the document, the United States does not consider outer space as the common heritage of mankind, but believes that the Americans should have the right to conduct commercial research, extraction and use of resources in space. The State Department and other offices have been instructed to hold negotiations at the international level to conclude agreements on the development and extraction of resources on the Moon and other space bodies.
What can be mined on the moon?
- Water is used as fuel for spacecraft.
- Gold is… well, everything is clear here, it is not only used for dental crowns and Faberge eggs, but also in electronics, medicine, astronautics.
- Platinum is in jewelry, chemical industry, production of medical equipment.
- Rare earth elements are used in electronics. Moreover, this resource on earth is very limited. The Lord distributed their deposits around the universe extremely unfairly. Yttrium, for example, is used in high-tech machines and in the manufacture of monitors.
Elina Morozova, a member of the Board of Directors of the International Institute of Space Law, explained in an interview with the BBC that the principle of non-appropriation of celestial bodies is considered basic in international law, but the issue of their natural resources is more complex and can be interpreted ambiguously.
There are two main positions. One says that the principle of non-appropriation also applies to space resources (that they cannot be used and mined for national and commercial purposes, except for scientific research). Another position says that the principle of non-appropriation of celestial bodies does not regulate the issue of the extraction of space resources. This dilemma has been known for a long time, - explains Morozova.
Meanwhile, while lawyers are trying to find loopholes, countries are moving from words to deeds.
Several companies have already announced their desire to conduct exploration work there and, if possible, start mining minerals that include gold, platinum and other rare elements on Earth.
In early January 2019, the Chinese space probe Chang'e-4 landed safely on the far side of the moon on its first attempt. The station carried out the first experiment to grow plants on the moon, as a result of which the seeds delivered there sprouted. Scientists hope to apply the test results to the creation of a lunar experimental base.
Japanese company iSpace plans to create an Earth-Moon transport platform and conduct research on solid water in craters at the Moon's poles.
Former editor-in-chief of the Space Law Journal, Joan Irene Gabrinovich, believes that international agreements do not guarantee anything. Their implementation is influenced by a mixture of politics, economics and public opinion.
In recent years, existing agreements prohibiting states from taking possession of celestial bodies have been actively tested for strength.
In 2015, the United States passed the Commercial Space Launch Competition Act, which outlines the right of citizens to extract minerals from asteroids. It will not spread to the Moon, but its mechanism of action, of course, can be expanded. Planetary Resources co-founder Eric Anderson called this law the greatest recognition of property rights in history.
In 2017, a similar law was passed in Luxembourg. It is about the ownership of resources found in space. Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneider said that this law would make Luxembourg a European pioneer and leader in this area. There is certainly a drive for research and commercialization. More and more countries are willing to be engaged in this.
Finally, let us remind you about Elon Musk, who threw his car into space. Do you think that this dreamer is completely disinterested?
Outer space is already plowed by dozens his satellites, distributing the Internet. Although many of Musk's ideas seem absurd at first glance, time proves him right.
Musk believes that the main task of SpaceX is the conquest of other planets of the solar system.
He plans to start from Mars. The Dragon V2 spacecraft, which SpaceX is currently developing for the needs of NASA, should become the basis for flights to the Red Planet. But Musk's ambitions go much further.
Recently, the tycoon recalled that to create a colony on Mars, the planet needs to be terraformed. For these purposes, Musk proposes to use thermonuclear weapons. According to his calculations, the explosion of two thermonuclear bombs in the atmosphere near the poles of Mars will trigger a reaction to heat up the planet and ultimately turn it into a more favorable place for people.
I would like to die on Mars. Just not on impact., - said Musk.
But let's go back to where we started. While the giants represented by large corporations and the governments of countries are trying to get everything, and scientists are looking for ways to get to neighboring planets, businessmen are slowly selling land plots on them.
But, we will talk about this in the next part of the blog, and you will also find out what Cyprus actually has to do with it.
In the meantime, we suggest you buy real estate in Cyprus. If you want to find interesting options, visit the DOM real estate website. Here you will find residential and commercial properties for every taste and budget.
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