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FAQ #25: Who came up with this idea?

Alan Wasser is the originator of the idea of using land claim recognition to make privately funded space settlements potentially profitable, and therefore possible in our lifetime. He is the author of numerous articles on the subject of space property rights, in such publications as The Explorers Journal, (official magazine of the Explorers Club), Space News, Ad Astra, Space Governance, Space Times, and Space Front among others. Space Governance published a rough draft of the proposed legislation.

He was the first to propose that the first human settlement on the Moon might use a permanently sun-lit mountain top at the moon's south pole, the existence of which was later confirmed by the Clementine mission. Much of Ben Bova's novel Moonrise takes place on that lunar mountain, which Bova named "Mt. Wasser".

Alan is a former broadcast journalist at ABC News and CBS News, who then owned and operated a successful international business, which he sold. He was the Chairman of the Executive Committee (CEO) of the National Space Society. Alan was also a member of the Board of Directors of ProSpace, and is an Advocate of the Space Frontier Foundation.

SMU Law School's Journal of Air Law & Commerce, the oldest and most respected law journal in its field, published an article Alan co-wrote with Douglas Jobes, entitled "Space Settlements, Property Rights, and International Law: Could a Lunar Settlement Claim the Lunar Real Estate It Needs to Survive?". For more about him, personally, see Alan's bio.

But this project is much more than the work of just one person. Many others have contributed a great deal to it, deserving thanks and credit for supplying key ideas, explaining the fine points of international law, promoting the idea, helping with writing and editing or in other ways, and even by attacking the plan and exposing weak points that needed fixing. Among the many who contributed are Douglas Jobes, David Wasser, Colin Doughan, Eric Rice, Scott Pace, Marianne Dyson, Glenn Reynolds, Gordon Woodcock, Declan O'Donnell, Ray Collins, Arjen Van Ballegoyen, Bryce Walden, Leonard David, Lawrence Roberts, Ben Bova, Rick Tumlinson, Arthur Smith, Carol Kochman, Toni Sonet, Art Dula, Robert Zubrin, Jim Bennett, Bob Werb, Charles Wood, Fred Ordway, Jim Benson, Pat Bahn, Peter Kokh, Grant Davis, Ed Wright, Alford Lessner and Charles Miller. Sincere apologies to the many others who should have been mentioned but have been accidentally overlooked.

Alan welcomes your comments on the proposed Lunar Land Claims Recognition concept. He can be reached by email.

A personal note from Alan Wasser on the subject of credit: Although I originated this concept, the greatest credit should go to whoever gets it enacted into law, which I have not been able to do. Someday, someone will come along with the charisma, wisdom, perseverance, position and/or connections to convert this from an idea to reality. If you are the person who can do that, you deserve to have your name attached to the plan, way ahead of mine. If you can do that, there will be settlers living on the Moon and perhaps Mars, in your lifetime, and you will richly deserve the statue they will build to you in the center of the settlement. Would you like to make the history books? Here's your chance! - Alan Wasser

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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