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Emerging issues in Space Law.

In 1996, German citizen Martin Juergens declared that the Moon belonged to his family, claiming that it had been presented to his ancestors in 1756 by Prussian King Frederick the Great as a gift of service. Decades earlier, Dennis Hope, believing that he had found a loophole in the Outer Space Treaty, created an extraterrestrial real estate company called “Lunar Embassy”. Hope started selling plots on the Moon for $25 per acre and, since the 1980’s claims to have sold more than 611 million acres of land on the Moon. 

Despite private claims to the Moon, experts in space law deny the legitimacy of such assertions under the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. According to the treaty, the exploration and use of space shall be carried out in the interests of all countries: outer space is the “province of all mankind”. Therefore, the Outer Space Treaty means that – no matter whose national flags are planted on the lunar surface- no nation can ‘own’ the Moon. As of 2019, 109 nations are bound by the Treaty, and another 23 have signed the agreement but have yet to be officially recognised.

In recent months and years, private space exploration has become a reality for humans everywhere; the possibility of traveling to the moon is not as daunting as it once was. The newfound accessibility of space has resurfaced decades old questions of who can lay claim to space and, more pressingly, who owns the moon? 

Join The Explorers Club President Richard Garriott , Moriba Jah, and our explorers in the law David Concannon, Charlies Norchi, and Kristin Larson for a conversation about the laws governing nations and people in outer space – and what the future of space colonisation holds for mankind.


David Concannon

David Concannon FN’96 is an attorney and explorer with nearly 40 years of experience in the field and 30 years of trial experience in courtrooms around the United States. David has lost only one trial in his legal career, his first, and he didn’t like it. Consequently, he has not lost another trial since 1995. An avid explorer, David has sailed the Beagle Channel, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, dived 16,000 feet deep in the Bermuda Triangle, recovered artifacts from the R.M.S. Titanic, explored the H.M.H.S. Britannic, and he led the expeditions to find and recover the Apollo F-1 engines that launched men to the moon.

He has been General Counsel (or the equivalent) to a number of organizations, including The Explorers Club, X-Prize Foundation, Professional Shipwreck Explorers Association, Anglo-Danish Maritime Archaeology Team, and the American Academy of Underwater Sciences. David now lives in the ski town of Sun Valley, Idaho, high up in the Rocky Mountains, but he ventures down to sea level when the need arises.

Charles Norchi

Charles Norchi FN’90 is the Benjamin Thompson Professor of Law in the University of Maine School of Law. He teaches and researches International Law, Law of the Sea, International Human Rights, Arctic Law, Expedition Law and directs the Center for Oceans and Coastal Law. Dr. Norchi is Chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Admiralty and Maritime Law, Co-President of the Arctic Futures Institute, Fellow of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Geographic Society, and The Explorers Club.

He is a contributing editor to Global Geneva, the Journal of the North Atlantic and Arctic and was Fulbright Ministry of Foreign Affairs Arctic Scholar in Iceland. Professor Norchi holds degrees from Harvard College, Case Western Reserve University, Yale Law School and is a dual national of Ireland and the United States. He has been awarded The Explorer Club Flag for multiple expeditions including Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Greenland.

Kristin Larson

Kristin Larson FN’02 spent a decade in Antarctica managing the largest, most diverse scientific research program on the continent. Her time spent south of 70 degrees interpreting and implementing the complex legal framework governing Antarctica – an entire continent without sovereigns – inspired Kristin to augment her two chemistry degrees with a juris doctor.

She received her law degree from George Washington University while serving on a White House task force for Vice President Al Gore focussed on harmonizing international agreements with domestic environmental protections. Kristin Larson’s Antarctic tenure was recognized by the naming of “Kristin Peak” (a mountain on Ross Island, Antarctica) in her honor.

Moriba Jah

Moriba Jah is an associate professor of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at The University of Texas at Austin where he is the holder of the Mrs. Pearlie Dashiell Henderson Centennial Fellowship in Engineering. He is the director for Computational Astronautical Sciences and Technologies (CAST), a group within the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences as well as the Lead for the Space Security and Safety Program at the Robert Strauss Center for International Security and Law. Moriba came to UT Austin by way of the Air Force Research Laboratory and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory prior to that, where he was a Spacecraft Navigator on a handful of Mars missions.

Moriba is a Fellow of multiple organizations: TED, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), American Astronautical Society (AAS), International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS), Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). He has served on the US delegation to the United Nations Committee On Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN-COPUOS), is an elected Academician of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), and has testified to congress on his work as related to Space Situational Awareness and Space Traffic Management. He’s an Co-Editor of the IAA and Elsevier Acta Astronautica journal, and serves on multiple committees: IAA Space Traffic Management, IAA Space Debris, AIAA Astrodynamics, IAF Astrodynamics, and IAF Space Security.

Richard Garriott

Richard Garriott de Cayeux currently serves as the President of the Explorers Club. He is a founding father of the videogame industry and the commercial spaceflight industry, a flown astronaut, and the first explorer to have explored pole to pole, orbited the Earth, and reached the deepest point in the Ocean.

As a principal shaper of the commercial spaceflight industry, he cofounded Space Adventures, the only company to arrange space flights for private citizens and is the sixth private astronaut to live aboard the International Space Station. The son of a NASA astronaut, he became the first second-generation astronaut, served on NASA advisory Council, and has been a key leader in civilian and commercial space through institutions such as the Challenger Center for Science Education, the XPRIZE Foundation, and Space Adventures.

October 18,2021
October 18, 2021
7:00 pm ET
7:00 pm ET
David Concannon, Richard Garriot, Charles Norchi, Kristin Larson, and Moriba Jah
David Concannon, Richard Garriot, Charles Norchi, Kristin Larson, and Moriba Jah
Who Owns the Moon?

Emerging issues in Space Law.

Join The Explorers Club President Richard Garriott , Moriba Jah, and our explorers in the law David Concannon, Charlies Norchi, and Kristin Larson for a conversation about the laws governing nations and people in outer space – and what the future of space colonisation holds for mankind.
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