Want to own land on another planet?

Rebecca Harrington

Space policy consultant Rand Simberg has proposed the Space Settlement Prize Act, which would allow companies to purchase the rights to land in space, Wired reported.

Current international space law, which is outlined by the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, prohibits any nation from claiming "sovereignty" over another planet or moon. Space law has generally interpreted this treaty to mean that space is for all mankind, and would go against Simberg's proposal.

Simberg argues that the 1967 treaty merely bans nations from claiming plots of land, and that it says nothing about private companies claiming land.

"It’s similar to the way properties were pioneered in the Old West," space law attorney Michael Listner told Wired. "The government opened up land and people went to settle it."

As long as only companies purchased land and countries did not, proponents of the Space Settlement Prize Act argue, then it would not violate the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. Proponents also say that this could be the new way to fund outer space research.

Opponents to the act hold that congress has bigger problems to deal with right now than outer space land rights. Simberg, of course, thinks that the time is right.

"The sooner we put policy in place and encourage this, the sooner it will happen," he said.