MarkWhittington writes When the Outer Space Treaty which, among other things, forbade claims of national sovereignty on other worlds, was signed and ratified by the United States in 1967, little thought was given to the idea of private property rights. Now, with companies like Moon Express and Bigelow Aerospace contemplating private lunar operations, that question has become a concern. According to Reuters, the FAA may have discovered a way to enforce private property rights on the moon without, it is hoped, violating the Outer Space Treaty. The idea is to extend the FAA's current launch licensing authority to cover commercial activities on the moon. The agency would license, for example, a helium 3 mining facility, giving the company running it control over it and as much adjoining territory as necessary to run the operation. The size of that territory, for which a particular company would hold property and mineral rights, could be considerable.
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