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Who owns the moon?

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The first successful moon landing of a private lander, Odysseus, last week came a month after Japan and six months after India touched down on Earth’s natural satellite. As more states and private companies reach the moon, some experts say, adequate legal framework and international agreements may be needed to avoid conflicts.

“Many hundreds of billions of dollars have been invested over the last several decades with the hope that the moon will turn out to be a resource for commercial activity, commercial development of the minerals and the water ice on the moon,” says Anthony Grayling, a British philosopher and founder of New College of the Humanities in London. NCH finalized its merger with Northeastern in 2019.  

“Exploration of new frontiers will produce new ways of imagining, new challenges, new technologies that can be of tremendous utility,” says Grayling, who moderated a fireside chat Monday that was part of Northeastern’s “Thinking the Future” series and recently published a book, “Who Owns the Moon? In Defence of Humanity’s Common Interests in Space.” Commercialization can also create friction and rivalries between different parties, he says, that can lead to potential conflicts. 

However, Mai’a Cross, dean’s professor of political science, international affairs and diplomacy and director of the Center for International Affairs and World Cultures at Northeastern, does not see companies or states taking advantage of the lack of regulations and starting something conflictual. “The reason is because we have international norms and we have space diplomacy going on,” says Cross, who was on the panel Monday.

Read more at Northeastern Global News.

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