Treaties Governing Space

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Treaties Governing the Economic, Military and Property Rights of Countries in Space

Below I've listed to the two treaties that were written to govern the economic, military, sovereign and property rights in space. Only the Outer Space Treaty (OST) of 1967 was adopted and ratified by all the space faring countries in the world in addition to almost all the other non-space faring countries. The Moon Treaty of 1979 was meant to clarify the economic, military, sovereign and property rights in more definitive terms as the OST left many things regarding property rights ambiguous to interpretation.

I included the Moon Treaty for two reasons:

  1. It shows how some countries intended to shape all the activities in space and it is likely they have not changed their mind.
  2. As new treaties and agreements are drafted in various countries and organizations, numerous (non-space faring) countries are likely to pull on the Moon Treaty as an unfinished extension of the Outer Space Treaty to leverage more favorable terms from space faring countries and their domestic space companies.

Current Treaties Governing Outer Space

The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 (Ratified and Adopted)

  • The exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries and shall be the province of all mankind
  • Outer space shall be free for exploration and use by all States
  • Outer space is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means
  • States shall not place nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit or on celestial bodies or station them in outer space in any other manner
  • The Moon and other celestial bodies shall be used exclusively for peaceful purposes;
  • Astronauts shall be regarded as the envoys of mankind
  • States shall be responsible for national space activities whether carried out by governmental or non-governmental entities
  • States shall be liable for damage caused by their space objects
  • States shall avoid harmful contamination of space and celestial bodies

The Moon Treaty of 1979 (Not Ratified or Adopted)

  • Bans the creation of military bases on any celestial body
  • All countries must be notified and agree on all exploration and use of space
  • Any discoveries made in space must be shared will all other countries
  • Bans any private or governmental ownership of any celestial bodies
  • Only an international governmental body could theoretically own space