Monday, July 28, 2014

Immigration to the Moon

By Carlos A. Calderin, Attorney
   Calderin & Oliva, P.A.
Last week marked 45 years since human beings first walked on the moon.  On January 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the area of the moon known as Mare Tranquillitatis (Sea of Tranquility) aboard the "Eagle" lunar module.   A few hours later, Armstrong descended the steps of the lander onto the moon surface and uttered the famous words, "That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."  
Although, Armstrong and Aldrin, along with Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, returned to Earth four days later, they are in essence the first persons ever to migrate to another land outside of the Planet Earth.  Newspapers in the last days of July 1969, including the Dayton Journal Herald proclaimed that there would lunar bases by the year 1977. Since that mission, there have been no concrete attempts to send people to the moon for a stay longer than a few days.  However, this does not prevent the meditation on the possibility that some day there may be permanent establishments on the moon that will require some level of lunar immigration. 
Imagine a distant future, perhaps in a hundred years or more, when the moon is populated with massive biosphere zones that each house hundreds of thousands of people.  Rockets take off daily from Earth to transport personnel and supplies to these lunar bases.  The bases would offer work and other opportunities for those who could find a way to immigrate to the moon.  But, as advanced as these moon bases would be, their resources and their ability to sustain the lives of its populations would be finite, thereby requiring that access to them be regulated.  Perhaps an individual would need a special visa to travel to the moon for work or for pleasure.  A man approaches the gate at Cape Canaveral Spaceport to board a spacecraft, possibly an advance version of tech-billionaire Elon Musk's SpaceX Dragon. At the gate is a iris scanner, which quickly probes the man's eyes.  On a screen next to the scanner, appears a picture of the man, his itinerary that states that he is booked on the 2:10PM shuttle to Frigoris Base in the lunar north pole, and a screenshot of his Lunar-1A professional work visa. 

While the
Outer Space Treaty, in effect since 1967, expressly prohibits any nation from laying claim to any part of the moon, it does not prevent a nation from maintaining ownership of a massive structure, like a biosphere.   Therefore, it could be argued that the U.S. would have jurisdiction inside a U.S.-installed moon base.  In such a case, the nation would have the power to regulate the migration  to such a base through laws and rule making.   Furthermore, former U.S. Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich made headlines in 2012 when he said that the population of a future moon base would have the right to petition the U.S. Congress to become a state.

An increase in the population on the moon would evidently lead to the emergence of group of native-born Lunarians, who may eventually decide to declare their independence from all nations on Earth. A political entity, such as this, would then have the power to foster or inhibit immigration to the moon.   Perhaps one day there will be those who will travel with a future version of a passport from a nation called "Republic of Luna", "United Lunar States", or simply "The Moon".
For some who are reading this, it may seem too farfetched that any of this will ever come to fruition. For those, I remind that it seemed farfetched when in the 1500s Leonardo Da Vinci sketched out the plans for an airplane that he called "La macchina volante" (the flying machine), four hundred years before the first airplane lifted off the ground.  It also seemed implausible in 1865 when French author Jules Verne wrote about human traveling to the moon in his novel From the Earth to the Moon (De la Terre à la Lune).  The dreams of these men of yesterday are the realities of our today.  Therefore, it is possible that the ambitious dreams of boy tonight may become a reality some day tomorrow on the moon. 

The above information is provided for information purposes.  It should not be construed as legal advice or the formation of an attorney/client relationship.