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We have "Land"-ing? May 15, 2008

Posted by Nick Azer in Helium-3, lunar land, Lunar Land Ownership, lunar land use planning, Mare Tranquillitatis.

This budding era of Moon Colonization, like few eras in our history ever have before, brings up new frontiers not only in terms of land, but in ideas, concepts, and societal functions.

Now, wait– “land”? A quick look at the Wikipedia entry for that lovable dry space we call home (mostly) brings up an interesting note:

“Land may refer to:

  • Land, the part of the Earth that is not covered by water

That would lead one to believe that, since the surface of the Moon is in fact not part of Earth (or is it?), and therefore not a part of Earth that isn’t covered with water, it doesn’t technically have ‘land’.

A quick field trip to Dictionary.com, though, reveals more:

“land /lænd/ –noun
any part of the earth’s surface not covered by a body of water; the part of the earth’s surface occupied by continents and islands:
Land was sighted from the crow’s nest.
an area of ground with reference to its nature or composition:
arable land.
an area of ground with specific boundaries:
to buy land on which to build a house.
rural or farming areas, as contrasted with urban areas:
They left the land for the city.
any part of the earth’s surface that can be owned as property, and everything annexed to it, whether by nature or by the human hand.
any legal interest held in land. “

When talking about ‘land’ on the Moon, numbers 3 and 5 are the most relevant here: an area with specific boundaries, and the legal definition of…well, technically, that’s defined there as Earth’s surface. So we’ll stick to number , and let the space law junkies duke it out over number 5.

So now that we’ve more or less established that land, as a concept, does exist on the Moon, what does that mean? So what?

Well, Mankind is about to gain an extra 3.793×107 km² , or 0.074 Earths’ worth of land. Mare Tranquillitatis alone is the size of the Phillipines (population: 92 million), never mind the entire surface of the Moon.

I got all excited to find a link in the Space Law article to a “Lunar Land Management Society“, but came away with nothing but a broken link. But, Google provides victory!–A link that works. The site remains pretty barren, though (much like Luna herself). One valuable piece of information can be wrought from it, though: they’re based out of the Mojave Space Port (or, were?).

The point here being, I’m not the only one who thinks lunar land management is not only a serious topic, but a timely and current one.

As a matter of fact, a little more digging reveals you can already be your very own Lunar land owner. That one surprised even me; even land in the Sea of Tranquility is supposedly available…which is rich in helium-3…which countries want. Their site has some amusing analysis of what happened with the 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty; that looks like a thick treaty, and something I’ll have to cover in depth here another day.

For now, though, we can rest knowing that not only is the Moon ‘land’, it can already be bought. This, therefore, opens up the concept of Lunar land use and land use planning. Now, what end of the spectrum lunar land development ends up being on remains to be seen; and, in fact, could be decided by this very generation within the next decade. A little law and effort can go a long ways



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