Who owns the Moon? A new space race means it could be up for grabs | Space

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We’re in the midst of a Moon rush. A growing number of countries and companies have the lunar surface in their sights in a race for resources and space dominance. So are we ready for this new era of lunar exploration?

This week, images were beamed back to Earth of China’s flag unfurled on the Moon. It’s the country’s fourth landing there – and the first ever mission to return samples from the Moon’s far side. In the past 12 months, India and Japan have also set down spacecraft on the lunar surface. In February, US firm Intuitive Machines became the first private company to put a lander on the Moon, and there are plenty more set to follow.

Meanwhile, Nasa wants to send humans back to the Moon, with its Artemis astronauts aiming for a 2026 landing. China says it will send humans to the Moon by 2030. And instead of fleeting visits, the plan is to build permanent bases.

But in an age of renewed great-power politics, this new space race could lead to tensions on Earth being exported to the lunar surface.

“Our relationship with the Moon is going to fundamentally change very soon,” warns Justin Holcomb, a geologist from the University of Kansas. The rapidity of space exploration is now “outpacing our laws”, he says.

A UN agreement from 1967 says no nation can own the Moon. Instead, the fantastically named Outer Space Treaty says it belongs to everyone,…

Source www.bbc.com

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