Who owns the moon? The question is in the news! The United States government just gave permission to a company called Moon Express to land on the moon. The company wants to perfect its spacecraft and explore the resources of this part of the solar system.
The astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first to step on the moon on July 20, 1969 at 10:56 p.m. (Eastern Time). He might have planted the American flag on the surface, but the moon doesn't belong to the United States.
102 countries, including the Canada and the U.S., have signed the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies. In force since 1967, this treaty says that outer space, including the moon, can be explored and used by all countries, but only for peaceful purposes.
In 1984, some countries tried to have the moon declared to be the common heritage of humankind. This would mean that its resources would not belong to any one country or person. But only a few countries agreed to this suggestion.
In 2012, a Quebecer asked a court to recognize that he had rights over several bodies in the solar system, including the moon. The Quebec Superior Court rejected his request. The court said there were no legal grounds for the request.
The famous first steps of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Moon: