China stakes out a lunar land-grab. .Bob Zimmerman BehindtheBlack.com

May 30, 06:04 AM
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(Photo: Scientist-Astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt is photographed standing next to a huge, split boulder during the third Apollo 17 extravehicular activity (EVA-3) at the Taurus–Littrow landing site on the Moon. Schmitt is the Apollo 17 lunar module pilot. This picture was taken by Astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, commander.)

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China stakes out a lunar land-grab. .Bob Zimmerman BehindtheBlack.com

http://behindtheblack.com/behind-the-black/points-of-information/china-the-moon-and-the-outer-space-treaty/

China, the Moon, and the Outer Space Treaty

May 25, 2018 at 11:15 am Robert Zimmerman

Link here. The article speaks to the problems of sovereignty, ownership, and political borders created by the language of Outer Space Treaty, specifically illustrated now by China’s newest effort to put a lander on the far side of the Moon.

[This] pioneering space travel has raised concern that China is also interested in the tiny spots on the moon that never go dark, the polar peaks of eternal light. Those peaks are vanishingly small, occupying one-one hundred billionth of the lunar surface − roughly equivalent to three sheets of NHL ice on Earth. But their near-ceaseless sunshine gives them great value as a source of solar energy, to power everything from scientific experiments to mining operations.

Their small size could also, scientists have argued, allow one country to take sole occupancy of this unique real estate without falling afoul of the Outer Space Treaty. That agreement stipulates that no state can exert sovereignty in outer space. But it also calls on countries “to avoid interference” with equipment installed by others.

That provides a loophole of sorts, researchers say. The installation of very sensitive equipment on the peaks of eternal light, such as a radio telescope − a 100-metre long uncovered wire used to study transmissions from the sun, and deeper corners of the universe − could use up much of the available space while also providing a rationale to bar others from the area on the grounds that the telescope is too sensitive to be disturbed.

“Effectively a single wire could co-opt one of the most valuable pieces of territory on the moon into something approaching real estate, giving the occupant a good deal of leverage even if their primary objective was not scientific inquiry,” researchers from Harvard University, King’s College London and Georg-August Universitat Gottingen wrote in a 2015 paper.

Because the Outer Space Treaty outlaws any nation from claiming territory, it provides no method for any nation, or private company, to establish its borders or property rights. To protect what they own nations are therefore will be forced to create their own rules, willy-nilly, such as the one speculated above. And when they disagree, only the use of force will be available to either defend or defy these arbitrary rules.