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Who can lay claim to the Moon?

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According to the 1967 United Nations Outer Space Treaty, ‘Outer Space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.’ This treaty has been ratified by 62 countries, including the world’s leading space powers, and was intended to apply to commercial and private operations as well. In contrast, the 1979 International Moon Treaty, drawn up specifically to prevent private claims to lunar real estate, has only been ratified by a handful of nations. Rest assured, though, that any private operator who did try to stake part of the Moon would certainly at least have to plant a flag there – rather than just setting up a website and claiming to own it!

Answered by Giles Sparrow.