Who owns the moon?

An astronaut walking on the moon

A digital rendering of an astronaut walking on the moon. (Image credit: fStop Images – Caspar Benson)

The flags of two countries hang unfurled — not by any breeze but by metal wiring — over the desolate, eerily still surface of the moon. One is the stars and stripes of the United States; the other, the crimson of China. But if you ask any official from these countries, they will tell you that these flags do not represent a property claim of any kind. They’re more like extraterrestrial graffiti. 

But if planting a flag on the moon doesn’t count as a property claim, then what does? And when you get down to it, can anyone actually own the moon? 

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