OK – So who owns space? According to a United Nations Treaty signed in 1967 by the Russian Federation, United Kingdom, and the United States of America – no one. Called the “Treaty on principles governing the activities of states in the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies”
- 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; and
- States shall avoid harmful contamination of space and celestial bodies.
Pardon me if I can’t decide whether to laugh or cry. While tipping my hat to an extremely sensible set of rules, especially when considering the Cold War era of the authors – I’m laughing for exactly the same reason, a holy crap moment if ever there was one.
Almost 50 years ago, at arguably the pinnacle of paranoia and calamity; fingers poised on nuclear annihilation – a polite little agreement set terms for the final frontier. A practical approach – sensible, and designed for the benefit of all mankind. Principles too fantastic to ever consider applying right here at home.
Stuffy, mistrustful politicians crafted a masterful piece of science fiction, yet failed to catch the irony. I’m not so naive as to think any of them stuck to the deal, yet blissfully embrace the notion of a clean slate somewhere beyond our closed minds. I enjoy fantasy; the thought of a place existing free of earthly shackles, is as good a premise as any.
Until I hear differently – space is Shangri La. A place where all people are equal, liberated from war, matters of God, and any principles other than those that benefit mankind.