The Moon Treaty of 1979

“The Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bod­ies,” or the Moon Treaty, is yet another follow-on treaty that proceeds from the first space treaty, the Outer Space Treaty. Each of the treaties that have been adopted since the Outer Space Treaty has added more detail and definition to the gen­eral principles enunciated in the first treaty. The Moon Treaty, however, is considered by most as a “failed” treaty because the specific, additional language used has met with opposition from the major space-faring countries.

The basic stumbling block in the treaty is the use of the words “common heritage of man­kind” to describe the nature of the moon and its resources, as well as the other celestial bodies. The treaty provides for the establishment of an
international regime to govern the exploitation of these resources when such exploitation becomes feasible.

The general interpretation of this language is that all nations of the world have equal rights to the resources of the heavens, irrespective of whether or not they put forth any effort or incur any risk, financial or otherwise, in development of ways and means to recover those resources. Any plan to develop these resources would osten­sibly require approval of all nations on earth, which would be impracticable.

The rejection of the Moon Treaty follows a similar rejection of the terrestrial Law of the Sea Treaty (referred to gleefully by its detractors as LOST). In 1982, the United Nations conceived the Law of the Sea Treaty as a means of con­trol and governance of the world’s oceans. The breadth of the treaty was such that it sought to

biotechnology), physics (including fluid physics, materials science, and quantum physics), astron­omy, and meteorology. The goals of this research include developing an understanding of, and the technology to deal with, long-term human pres­ence in space, developing methods for the more efficient production of materials, developing new ways to treat disease, achieving more accurate measurements than is possible on earth, and a better understanding of the universe.

1 NASA and the United States
Space Program-А Review

Created by the National Aeronautics and Space Act on July 29, 1958, during the Eisenhower Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration replaced the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) which had been researching flight technology for more than 40 years. NASA’s mission continued the work of aeronautics research, but also specifi­cally assumed the responsibility for research in aerospace and for the overall civilian space pro­gram for the nation, including the human space flight program.

The United States space exploration and development program has included both manned and unmanned launches, and unmanned launches designed specifically as precursors of human space flight. Included in these are Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Apollo-Soyuz, the Space Shut­tle, Skylab, and the International Space Station.23

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