Elon Musk has been hard at work at SpaceX, continuing his work on bringing civilization to Mars. He’s created a marketing campaign around it titled Occupy Mars, and even has merchandise with the logo. Realistically, he’s the closest person to actually being able to get humans to Mars, so can Elon Musk claim Mars if he succeeds?
No, he can’t – under the Outer Space Treaty, signed in 1967 by the United Nations, basically states that no government, organization, or person shall lay claim to any celestial being, including the moon, as it belongs to all of mankind.
While Musk can’t claim the planet if he’s the first to make it there, he could still end up leading it, technically anyhow. If the people who are living there decide that they want Musk to be their leader, such as president, then that’s possible. Of course, he would need to make it there during his lifetime for that to happen.
The Outer Space Treaty
Officially known as the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies. Thankfully somebody decided to refer to it as the Outer Space Treaty.
Whichever name you choose to use for it, the Treaty was created at a time when multiple nations were putting a push on their exploration of space, most notably the push to the moon. It went into effect on October 10, 1967 with signatures from the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and Russia.
The full text of the most recent version of the treaty can be found here, on the website of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. It offers up not only clarity in that anybody is free to explore space, but also goes into detail about rescuing astronauts, and the return of objects launched into outer space.
It turns out that Elon Musk isn’t the only one who wants to colonize Mars. In fact, there are several other companies, mostly backed by an ultra-rich individual. Jeff Bezos founder of Amazon, Richard Branson founder of Virgin Atlantic, Paul Allen co-founder of Microsoft, and a group from Russia, all have projects in the works to get people to Mars.
Another person in the running is Robert Zubrin, an aerospace engineer in Colorado who has founded Mars Society, a non-profit program. There are similarities between Zubrin and Elon Musk; both believe that Mars needs to be colonized to increase the chances of the human race surviving.
Zubrin admires Musk and has positive things to say about the head of SpaceX. He believes that Musk has succeeded, when others haven’t, because he does more than just throw money at the problem. Musk is someone who puts everything he has into trying to achieve his goals and doesn’t give up when things get tough.
But First, The Moon
While Musk predicts that the first colony on Mars could be completed by 2050, and there’s a 70% chance that he’ll make it to the planet himself, first he’s going to go to the moon. Well, at least SpaceX will.
NASA announced on April 30, 2020 that SpaceX was one of three companies that will prepare for the next humans on the moon. NASA predicts that they will be able to land with humans in 2024. SpaceX’s contribution will see them carry astronauts who will then be able to exit and perform moonwalks.
This is just one project in NASA’s Moon to Mars initiative, which is looking to landing people on the moon, using that as a launchpad to the Red Planet.
No Time to Run a Planet
Musk is going to be busy for the foreseeable future. With SpaceX alone, he’s going to be running cargo back and forth to the International Space Station, then he’s going to be bringing people to the moon, and after that will be bringing cargo to Mars to set up for colonization. Not to mention in between all of that he will be taking care of satellites and running experiments on vehicles for the Occupy Mars mission.
In addition, he’s got a lot on his plate at Tesla and his other companies, and he announced the birth of his sixth son on May 5, 2020. It looks like he’s not going to have time to claim Mars, even if he could.