Monday, August 6, 2012

It took 8 months for America’s rover “Curiosity” to make it to Mars.  The mission will end up costing nearly $2.5 billion.  Moreover, America is the first nation to land a rover on Mars.  It seems only fair that the United States should be able to claim Mars as American territory.  Right?  Well, not so fast.  According to the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (also known as “The Outer Space Treaty”), exploration of space, including landings on Mars and all other celestial bodies is done for “the benefit and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development, and shall be the province of all mankind.”

Specifically, Article II of The Outer Space Treaty declares:
“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.”
Other provisions include requiring the use of Mars for peaceful purposes, consistent with international law.  America is also prohibited from establishing “military bases, installations and fortifications, the testing of any type of weapons and the conduct of military manoeuvres on celestial bodies…” (Article IV)

In short, America may have gotten there first, but all we get are bragging rights.

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