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There is a lot of debate in the space advocacy community about the need for property rights in space. A number of pro-commercial space advocates believe that that settlement cannot be accomplished without the settlers being able to have property rights. The benefit of property rights is that property has value including future value. So, if people could own property then they could leverage it to take out a loan on it or sell it to another. That sort of real estate value to help the development of the property.

But there's just one little problem. The Outer Space Treaty (OST) says that no nation can appropriate a celestial body by claiming or using it. So, if a country can't own property then how can individuals ever have the right to own it themselves? Also, if off-Earth property could be owned then could some country seek to own something like the polar regions of the Moon and legally exclude people from other nations from being able to exploit those resources?

To be clear, there are several types of property rights including:
   - Real property rights
   - Personal property rights

Real property rights is the ownership of the land itself. At this point, it is unclear how anyone could legally own off-Earth land. The OST does allow for undefined exclusionary zones to ensure safety of operations. But there is the concern that some nation might set up operations and claim a very large exclusionary zone amounting to a "land grab" while still claiming to be within the OST treaty. The Space Development Network believes that landing pads constructed to prevent the blowing of dust and rocks should mean that exclusionary zones should be fairly small thereby allowing multiple entities to work a single region and it is our position that all nations established on the Moon and Mars be allowed a guaranteed right to purchase locally-produced resources at market rates.

It is also the position of the Space Development Network that Earth-based countries should not establish permanently sovereign territory on planetary bodies (including the Moon) but that territories be established with the intent that, upon reaching a certain population size that the people living there should be allowed to declare their political independence. These countries would be physically based within their own territory and would not have signed the OST. At that point, the sovereignty of those countries should be recognized.

Personal property rights are the rights to objects which one possesses. There is fairly broad recognition and precedence that material extracted from celestial bodies are owned by those who did the work extracting them. For example, some samples brought back from the Moon during the Apollo program have been bought and sold via private transactions and the ownership rights of those objects have been recognized by the courts. So, it seems likely to us that off-Earth operators will be able to extract, process, and sell resources for a profit.

In conclusion our view is that:
   - Personal property rights is pretty much a given,
   - Real property rights would be great but reasonable exclusion zones give many of the benefits of real property rights,
   - We need to now develop a generally agreed upon pathway to off-Earth sovereignty so as to prevent conflict later on.

Ownership of mined resources is already an established right. Property rights would be helpful but not essential for space development.

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