Back to FAQs Main Page

FAQ #35: Why are Lunar land sales necessary? Wouldn't Lunar water, minerals, or energy be profitable enough?

Since the voters clearly prefer tax cuts to funding a government space settlement - regardless of whether NASA builds or buys the hardware - space development will have to be financed by selling something to private customers.

For now, Earth is the only place where there are customers.

The key problem is getting someone to undertake the first huge step - large scale for-profit venture capital investment in the development of safe, affordable, reliable transport between the Earth and Moon sufficient for a privately funded Lunar settlement.

To get someone to invest tens of billions of dollars in such a risky venture, we have to find something they could sell to people on Earth for a really impressive profit - and it must be something that can start bringing in revenue as soon as possible after a settlement is established.

Of course, once there is an economy on the Moon, many other profitable activities will become possible, but they are too far into the future to justify serious investment in developing Lunar transport and a settlement now.

You can only sell Lunar water to people already on the Moon, or at least, already out in space. (Bringing a tanker ship full of Lunar water back to Earth would definitely not be a money maker.)

Even minerals and energy become seriously profitable only when there are already established Lunar customers to sell them to. As it stands now, it would cost far too much to get even platinum back to Earth to justify for-profit investment today.

Philanthropists are funding efforts to develop sub-orbital tourism - which costs a fraction of the cost of developing safe, reliable affordable Earth-Lunar transport - but even sub-orbital tourism isn't attracting much for-profit investment.

So there is certainly nothing currently available to attract venture capital investment in Lunar transport. And, as far as we know, there is none going on now.

We need something new, that doesn't rely on taxpayer funding, to get for-profit space development started.

Land Claims Recognition is the only such possibility that has been offered.

Only land deeds have zero transport costs and can be sold to people on Earth, for a big profit, just as soon as a permanent Lunar settlement has been established. IF land claims recognition legislation has passed.

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?


Back from Why are Lunar land sales necesseary? to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Back from Why are Lunar land sales necessary? to the Space Settlement Institute home page

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
Report: Homesteading the Final Frontier

Report: Homesteading the Final Frontier

International Law: Contemporary Issues and Future Developments

International Law

Journal of Air Law & Commerce

Popular Science

Return to the Moon

More Publications