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FAQ #32: What would Land Claims Recognition cost the US Government?

Nothing! It would cost the US government nothing. In fact, just the opposite.

The legislation would reduce expenditures and raise revenues for the government. There wouldn't even be any defense-related costs.

Lunar land claims legislation would direct the US government to promise, in advance, to recognize as legal and legitimate a claim by a privately funded permanent Lunar settlement to land around its base on the Moon - and to allow the settlement to sell deeds to some of that recognized land claim to American citizens back on Earth. That would cost the government NOTHING but would create the economic incentive for private, for-profit venture capitalists to pay the huge up-front costs required for space development, thereby saving NASA and the government a great deal of money.

Consider the alternative: If a permanent Lunar settlement were established without this legislation, and made such a claim, it would have a very good case for recognition - but the settlement would have to fight for recognition through the courts. Passing Lunar land claims legislation in advance of any settlement attempt would save them that huge waste of time and expense, and save the government the expense of lengthy and complicated trials going up through the Federal courts.

Once this legislation has become law, the teams of entrepreneurs racing to establish the first Lunar settlements will each need to spend a lot of their own money buying everything from rocket ships and habitats to training facilities and food. The suppliers developing and selling them that space transportation and infrastructure would have to hire lots and lots of workers, generating economic growth and, of course, tax revenues.

Once a settlement is established and starts to sell Lunar land deeds, it will generate jobs and sales for tax-paying real estate brokers. If the settlement makes a substantial profit, as we expect, US investors would pay taxes on their dividends. And when land deed buyers re-sell their deeds for a profit, they will pay capital gains taxes to the government.

As discussed in FAQ #22: What About Defense?, the US would NOT even have to provide military defense of the Lunar settlement, so there would be no need for expenses of that sort.

Strip of lunar land
image credit: NASA

Questions & Answers about Lunar Land Claims Recognition

Note: The first 25 FAQs below are reprinted from the Space Settlement Initiative website.

  1. What is the real purpose of enacting a Lunar land claims recognition law?

  2. Will promising property rights be enough to produce the necessary investment in developing affordable space transport?

  3. What does international law say about private property ownership in space?

  4. Can there be property ownership without national sovereignty?

  5. What if other nations refuse to recognize land claims in space?

  6. Why not allow smaller, limited land claims for easier steps than settlement?

  7. Could lunar land really be worth enough money to make a difference?

  8. What conditions should the US set for recognition of a claim?

  9. How much land should a settlement be able to claim... and why?

  10. Why must the Earth-Moon space line and settlement be open to all paying passengers regardless of nationality?

  11. Wouldn't it help if a major company announced that, if a land claims recognition law were passed, it would try to develop affordable space transport?

  12. Are the weaknesses and compromises in this plan likely to be permanent?

  13. Didn't the earliest version of this plan talk about Lunar "land grants"? Why aren't you using that phrase any more?

  14. Did land grants work in the past, on Earth?

  15. You can't farm Lunar land, and Earth doesn't need the Moon's minerals. So how could Lunar land be put to profitable use?

  16. If you can't give figures, now, proving the profitability of the end uses of Lunar land, how could anyone raise big money for Lunar land?

  17. Could other sources of revenue be enough without land claims recognition?

  18. What if the Lunar settlement does not produce enough operating revenue to pay off its debts and make a profit?

  19. Could this law produce a new "space race"?

  20. Why is U.S. legislation, in particular, so important?

  21. Could the U.S. withdraw from the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, claim national sovereignty on the Moon, then award property rights to whomever it pleased?

  22. What about defense? Does recognizing a land claim obligate the U.S. military to defend the Lunar settlement?

  23. What effect would this have on NASA and the aerospace companies?

  24. What do the experts say about this idea?

  25. Who came up with this idea?

More FAQs

The FAQs above cover basic questions about Lunar Land Claims Recognition. The following questions address more advanced issues.

  1. If we really went to the Moon in 1969, why aren't we there now?

  2. What were the assumptions before the Outer Space Treaty, (e.g. Robert Heinlein)?

  3. Should Lunar government be modeled after Antarctica?

  4. Could the UN just give every nation a portion of the Moon to own, thereby creating valuable Lunar property rights?

  5. Why don't space activists convince the public to support a government program to establish a base on the Moon and Mars?

  6. Will changing how NASA works bring the taxpayers back on board?

  7. What would Land Claims Recognition cost the US Government?

  8. What will this legislation do for general economic growth?

  9. Who would issue and record Lunar land deeds?

  10. Why are Lunar land sales necessary?

  11. Could this law force the US to recognize a foreign government's Lunar land claim?

  12. Shouldn't we wait to put such a law into effect until free societies are ready to settle the Moon, to keep it from encouraging the Chinese?

  13. Would Article VI of the Outer Space Treaty prohibit Lunar land claims recognition?


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Every revolutionary idea passes three stages:
  1. It's impossible.
  2. It's possible but not worth doing.
  3. I said it was a good idea all along.
- Arthur C. Clarke
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