FAA appears to be attempting to expand its authority to moon activities

February 6, 2015 by Bob Yirka report

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has caused a bit of stir by hinting that it plans to expand its authority to include exploration of the moon and the use of its resources. News agency Reuters has reported that it has obtained a copy of a letter composed by officials with the agency and sent to U.S. based Bigelow Airspace—in it, the agency said it plans to leverage its launching authority by adding licensing authority of moon assets—all to encourage private companies to invest in such activities. The reason such a move has caused a stir, of course, is because it appears that the U.S. agency is attempting to expand its oversight into an area where it does not have the authority to do so.

No one owns the moon or any part of it, which makes it ripe for the taking. A similar scenario is taking place in parts of the northern hemisphere as global warming reveals new unclaimed territory. In years past, land grabs generally resulted in the spoils going to those who came first—and then fought off those that tried to take it away from them. To prevent such a scenario unfolding in a new more civilized world, the United Nations passed an Outer Space treaty back in 1967, which among other things, stipulates that no one country can claim sovereignty over any part of the moon. It also lays out rules for activities on the moon—private entities that go there, for example, must be authorized and supervised by countries belonging to the UN.

George Nield, author of the letter, in responding to criticism regarding its intent, claimed that the wording does not imply that the agency is attempting to license —the agency, he said, was merely trying to reassure Bigelow that it would do its best to protect the company's assets once they are on the moon. Unfortunately, others do not see it that way. While it is clear that new rules need to be written and agreed to by worldwide consensus, an American agency striking out on its own seems to be a push by the U.S. government to tighten its grip on celestial assets—Reuters claims the letter was coordinated by several agencies, not just the FAA, which included NASA, Commerce and the departments of State and Defense.

Regardless of intent, it is likely the letter will cause some in the U.N. or other multi-national organizations to speed up the process of figuring out how to settle land claims and/or disputes on the or other celestial bodies, before it becomes necessary to settle things the old-fashioned way.

Explore further: Video: The future of manned moon exploration

Related Stories

Video: The future of manned moon exploration

January 20, 2015

This 8-minute film gives an overview of the past, present, and future of Moon Exploration, from the Lunar cataclysm to ESA's vision of what Lunar exploration could be.

Mining the moon becomes a serious prospect

February 2, 2015

With an estimated 1.6 billion tonnes of water ice at its poles and an abundance of rare-earth elements hidden below its surface, the moon is rich ground for mining.

Who owns the moon?

October 17, 2014

Whether you're into mining, energy or tourism, there are lots of reasons to explore space. Some "pioneers" even believe humanity's survival depends on colonising celestial bodies such as the moon and Mars, both becoming central ...

Recommended for you

Dark matter may be smoother than expected

December 7, 2016

Analysis of a giant new galaxy survey, made with ESO's VLT Survey Telescope in Chile, suggests that dark matter may be less dense and more smoothly distributed throughout space than previously thought. An international team ...

Giant radio flare of Cygnus X-3 detected by astronomers

December 7, 2016

(Phys.org)—Russian astronomers have recently observed a giant radio flare from a strong X-ray binary source known as Cygnus X-3 (Cyg X-3 for short). The flare occurred after more than five years of quiescence of this source. ...

Saturn's bulging core implies moons younger than thought

December 7, 2016

Freshly harvested data from NASA's Cassini mission reveals that Saturn's bulging core and twisting gravitational forces offer clues to the ages of the planet's moons. Astronomers now believe that the ringed planet's moons ...

Cassini transmits first images from new orbit

December 7, 2016

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has sent to Earth its first views of Saturn's atmosphere since beginning the latest phase of its mission. The new images show scenes from high above Saturn's northern hemisphere, including the planet's ...

30 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Humbled1
1.1 / 5 (7) Feb 06, 2015
There needs to be some sort of treaty sorted out about who gets to make claims on the Moon and under what conditions.

I figure the U.S. has landed the first 12 people on the Moon in teams of 2 per landing party, so we should get the first 12 claims.

the U.S. foolishly announce to the world where all the mineral deposits an hydrogen deposits are, so whenever China does their manned missions, they are going to know where to land to get the best claims, and they won't even have to steal anything to do it.
tadchem
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 06, 2015
Apparently the geniuses at NASA have figured out that the most successful Federal agencies (budget-wise) are the ones that have regulatory and enforcement powers to demand money from civilians.
eloace
1 / 5 (2) Feb 06, 2015
Does the US have territory on the moon yet, DOES IT NOT become global law of some sort, a world aviation federation. We're a striving civilization who may have learnt from our past mistakes that conflicts are not the way forward rather resolving them are, our demand in energy consumption is accelerating as a result of this we need to harness more resources, most preferably resources other than burning fossil fuels and causing global warming. For our civilization to grow and for the human race to not extinguish itself due to petty squabbles over territory, wouldn't it be better after all it was heading in the direction of a global authority governing the affairs celestial activities
Uncle Ira
4 / 5 (10) Feb 06, 2015
We're a striving civilization who may have learnt from our past mistakes that conflicts are not the way forward rather resolving them are


You been living under a rock Skippy?

For our civilization to grow and for the human race to not extinguish itself due to petty squabbles over territory, wouldn't it be better after all it was heading in the direction of a global authority governing the affairs celestial activities


How you going to have a global authority? They can't even agree with what to do down here, you think they are going to get all warm and fuzzy over the stuffs up there?

Maybe we should start by sending all the religious authorities up there together so we can have some peace down here.
Humbled1
1 / 5 (4) Feb 06, 2015
We're a striving civilization who may have learnt from our past mistakes that conflicts are not the way forward rather resolving them are, our demand in energy consumption is accelerating as a result of this we need to harness more resources, most preferably resources other than burning fossil fuels and causing global warming.


Statehood is a good thing, because at least it offers a chance for people with opposing views to live apart from one another, at least in principle reducing direct conflict.

The problem is religious fanatics and cultists know no rules.

The Western world has been trying to resolve this for centuries, and in modern times it seems to keep getting worse. The same fanatics with better communication technology and better logistics, and stealing US and European weapons and vehicles too.

It is not fair that our governments are expected to resolve this without being allowed to admit what this is really about due to PC bs....
Humbled1
1.8 / 5 (5) Feb 06, 2015
And I don't see how we're going to do consistent space exploration with nearly a third of the world population polluted by the Islamic religion. When this Isis cell gets destroyed then what? 5 years later another cell of lunatics rises up and it starts over again.

rp142
1 / 5 (1) Feb 06, 2015
The FAA can try to regulate the moon. It might even have an impact on US based companies but those in other countries will simply ignore the FAA because it has no actual authority over the moon.

The FAA does not have a good track record of doing what is good for the US. Just look at how other countries have created sensible regulations for the commercial and private use of drones. Business in the US is missing out on opportunities because the FAA is holding them back.
jazzy_j_man
1 / 5 (2) Feb 06, 2015
If anyone cared about the day on day workings of the American military establishment you would have been alarmed by this a LONG time ago. You know those TV court shows where there's a property line dispute, like a tree limb, and the jerge sez, "Your property line exists all the way into space and to the center of the earth, in theory"? That's only for us "little people". The US Air and SPACE Command- shouldn't you have woke up when they changed the name?- has laid claim to ALL space. Why didn't anyone say anything when pieces of an US satellite came down and they warned sternly, "If it falls in your backyard and you try to keep it, that's a felony!"? That isn't the law. And they meant ANYONE in the world's back yard.

This is sooooo typical of how everyone deals with the US. Ignore the rhetoric for 25 years, then act shocked when they act on it. As Murrow pointed out, "A nation of sheep will soon be governed by wolves".
Bongstar420
4 / 5 (4) Feb 06, 2015
The FAA can't do anything about extraterrestrial activities anymore than anyone else can. They can "protect" American assets if they want to, they just can't provide legal protection....Though anyone can protect anyones assets if they want to.

Space law is the best...You only own where you stand. You move, you lose. What I'm waiting for is for the "establishment" to use "historical monuments" to justify extension of ownership rights-assbags!
someone11235813
4 / 5 (1) Feb 06, 2015
I own the Moon. I have claimed it and that's the end of the matter. On another note this is daft in the extreme. The Moon cannot cannot be equated with land on Earth if for no other reason than there is no atmosphere which kinda makes doing anything a bit tricky, expensive and time consuming. Even if there was gold on them thar Moon, so what, is there like going to be a gold rush?
Humbled1
2 / 5 (4) Feb 06, 2015
Even if there was gold on them thar Moon, so what, is there like going to be a gold rush?


Mining Gold from the moon or an Asteroid could be done profitably.

The most expensive part would actually be finding the metals. on earth there are millions of geologists and kids playing in the back yard, etc, which find ores and other resources. On the moon or an asteroid field you'd need to find it via instrumentation.
dan42day
5 / 5 (2) Feb 06, 2015
According to the article, the United Nations Outer Space treaty of 1967 specifies that private entities (i.e. Bigalow) that go there must be authorized and supervised by countries belonging to the UN.

The FAA letter seems to be notifying Bigalow that they intend to authorize and supervise them. I don't see where the FAA is suggesting that they have any authority or responsibility to supervise any other country's nationals on the moon, other than trying to prevent them from interfering with Bigalow's authorized activities. I really don't see what the fuss is about.

stripeless_zebra
5 / 5 (1) Feb 06, 2015
Since July of last year anybody flying a micro-quad in his living room using the FPV goggles commits a criminal offense. Now Chinese will have to buy an FAA permit to park on the Moon, ha, ha, ha!

snoosebaum
5 / 5 (1) Feb 06, 2015
sounds like they have too much time on their hands
antonima
5 / 5 (1) Feb 06, 2015
I own the Moon.


I'll give you ten billion space bucks for it
Mimath224
3.5 / 5 (2) Feb 06, 2015
No surprise here, in fact I am surprised that they didn't do something like this when '...one giant step for mankind...' happened. 'I was here first so I have first choice' is a common natural human trait. I'm not saying it's right, it just happens that way. 'Possession is nine tenths of the law' or something similar has been around for yonks so it is inevitable that someone tries the same thing 'up there'. Can't wait to see if some international super court rules that the Moon is an extension of the Earth, or belongs to Earth etc etc etc. Just a thought, suppose then some prospecting alien comes along and starts mining or or other Ha!
On a more serious note, I do agree that we need some kind of order so that settlers don't end up causing a war either there or 'down here'...perhaps we should send world politicians to the moon first...?
dtxx
5 / 5 (1) Feb 07, 2015
Don't worry, Putin will just annex Mare Serenitatis and we'll give him special moon sanctions to make him frown.
SteveL
4 / 5 (1) Feb 07, 2015
'Possession is nine tenths of the law'

Tell the Native Americans how much that 9/10 was worth. It's more about power. Whomever has the power can make or break any laws they desire.
Tuxford
1 / 5 (1) Feb 07, 2015
'Possession is nine tenths of the law'

Tell the Native Americans how much that 9/10 was worth. It's more about power. Whomever has the power can make or break any laws they desire.


It is rather moot anyway, since the moon is already occupied. That's why Apollo was cut short and we have not been back in over forty years.
Shootist
1 / 5 (3) Feb 07, 2015
All you idiots what voted for Obama?

Thanks a pant load.
baudrunner
not rated yet Feb 07, 2015
private entities that go there, for example, must be authorized and supervised by countries belonging to the UN.
How stupid is that!? I want a nickle for every body who has read this and laughed themselves silly, here, and on the moon and Mars, and wherever else they get the internet. Hah!
Mimath224
5 / 5 (1) Feb 07, 2015
@Tuxford

'Possession is nine tenths of the law'

Tell the Native Americans how much that 9/10 was worth. It's more about power. Whomever has the power can make or break any laws they desire.


It is rather moot anyway, since the moon is already occupied. That's why Apollo was cut short and we have not been back in over forty years.

Well I've seen some of the alleged stuff but do you have a different reason for your comment? Do you extend that to Mars too? I find this ineresting because there seems to be a lot of material on the net supports the claims...only wish I could verify it myself Ha!
jerryjbrown
1 / 5 (1) Feb 07, 2015

"It is rather moot anyway, since the moon is already occupied. That's why Apollo was cut short and we have not been back in over forty years."

I think he was referring to that silly horror movie from a few years ago. The rocks are alive!

TBW
5 / 5 (1) Feb 07, 2015
Good luck convincing China. Their lunar program is in full swing and I doubt they care what the FAA has to say about it.
ROBTHEGOB
not rated yet Feb 08, 2015
Perhaps the FAA knows who is currently inhabiting TYCHO crater and exactly what they are doing there. If not, they may be in for a surprise.
Tuxford
1 / 5 (2) Feb 08, 2015
@Mimath

I happened to witness the NASA Apollo coverup in action. See my comment here. It was just me, and a few distracted press people drinking coffee in that NASA auditorium that historic day.

http://phys.org/n...llo.html
Tuxford
1 / 5 (2) Feb 08, 2015
Good luck convincing China. Their lunar program is in full swing and I doubt they care what the FAA has to say about it.


Perhaps that is one reason they have had to close commercial airports recently, when the UFO's park in the flight paths for a while. China is being warned.
baudrunner
1 / 5 (1) Feb 08, 2015
United Nations should be concerned only with what goes on down here on Earth. Out there in space, anything goes. Our "territorial waters" do not extend out into space. Why has nobody ever thought of that?
Mimath224
3 / 5 (2) Feb 08, 2015
@Tuxford, I have been involved in things, during my younger days, that I can't disclose having had to sign a 'paper' so I know how these guys feel. Fortunately, for me it was about industry (lab work) but nonetheless it's a bit disconcerting having a gov rep watching your every move. I had to use equipment, gov owned, that I had never seen the like of before or since, that measured chemical reactions and the afterward % purity of a particular hormone. I wasn't the only lab tech and one wonders why gov would use a 'common' lab and not some special venue. Perhaps that too was part of an experiment, I'll never know! Friends and family laughed when I tried to explain why I got home very late (might even get a similar reaction here ha!)
My point is if that is what 'they can do' in the public domain then when it comes to space exploration it's more than just possible that most of us haven't got a clue wnat really goes on.
hillmeister
1 / 5 (1) Feb 11, 2015
All this because of Helium-3 :p

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.