Humans have dreamed of traveling to the moon for as long as they’ve gazed at the heavens, and for just as long they seem to have been squabbling over property.

Small wonder, then, that with space travel now a reality and the existence of ice crystals recently confirmed on the moon—making the prospects for long-term lunar encampment more likely—some lawyers are already imagining the legal framework for settlement and activities such as mining on our closest natural satellite. As space activity in the 2000s has moved beyond the exclusive purview of governments to private enterprise, and from scientific exploration to commerce, questions of usage and private ownership rights become more important.

Timothy G. Nelson, Skadden.