Is the moon terra nullius or do any property rights exist for it in any shape or form?

1 Answer 1


There are no property rights on celestial bodies ... at present

The Outer Space Treaty “explicitly forbids any government to claim a celestial resource such as the Moon or a planet.” And, since only governments can make such claims under international law, no one can.

However, the treaty was drafted at a time when only governments could play in space and didn’t contemplate actions by non-governments. The rocket fuel will hit the fan when a corporation starts exploiting space minerals.

  • Also worth noting that property rights generally only apply, even at common law, when property has been reduced to possession or is transferred from someone who has done so, something that has not yet happened, but could very soon. For example, in practice, I doubt that minerals mined privately on an asteroid will be treated much differently from those mined on Earth with a legal right to do so, when it becomes possible to do so.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 20, 2020 at 18:15

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