Greg Nemitz has been a ‘love him or hate him figure’ within the space community for quite some time. Many have wondered what he could possibly accomplish by claiming the Asteroid Eros and charging NASA parking fees to leave their probe on its surface. Some were outraged when he took NASA to court for the failure to pay… not outraged because they felt it was silly; outraged because they thought he might generate bad case law.
Now Greg is on to the next step up the legal ladder. I am beginning to see the outlines of what may be a fascinating and outrageous (in a good sense) plan to settle the issue of extraterrestrial property rights in the US Supreme Court.
I will let Greg speak for himself:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CARSON CITY, NEVADA
The first legal case in Space Property Law was advanced today, 20 July, 2004, into U.S. Federal Appeals Court. Gregory Nemitz of Carson City, Nevada filed an appeal brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, California. The brief requests that the lower Court’s Order to Dismiss be overturned.
On November 3, 2003 Nemitz filed a Complaint for Declaratory Judgment in U.S. District Court in Reno, Nevada. The complaint charged the court to resolve the question, “Does the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 preclude private ownership of an asteroid and/or property on celestial bodies, or does it not?”
In March of 2000, Nemitz published a claim of ownership to Asteroid 433, Eros, commencing the “Eros Project for Space Property Law;” see: www.erosproject.com. On February 12, 2001, NASA permanently landed its NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft on Nemitz’s asteroid. Nemitz then sent NASA an invoice for parking and storage fees of $20 for the next century’s rents. NASA refused to pay the invoice, citing that the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 precludes private ownership of an asteroid.
Nemitz then sent a formal Notice to the United States Department of State that NASA had exceeded its authority and had denied Nemitz of his legal Rights. The U.S. State Department’s Official Determination in the matter stated that, “In the view of the Department, private ownership of an asteroid is precluded by Article II of the [Outer Space Treaty of 1967].” Nemitz then filed the Complaint for Declaratory Judgement in the District Court to determine the matter of Rights v. Treaty.
Nemitz states the importance of this issue, “There will be no commercial activities to harvest the vast and valuable resources in Space without official respect for private property rights.” Nemitz’s long-held viewpoint was recently confirmed by the President’s Commission on Moon, Mars and Beyond, when in June, 2004 it released its recommendations which included:
“Because of this treaty regime, the legal status of a hypothetical private company engaged in making products from space resources is uncertain. Potentially, this uncertainty could strangle a nascent spacebased industry in its cradle; no company will invest millions of dollars in developing a product to which their legal claim is uncertain. The issue of private property rights in space is a complex one involving national and international legal issues. However, it is imperative that these issues be recognized and addressed at an early stage in the implementation of the vision, otherwise there will be little significant private sector activity associated with the development of space resources, one of our key goals.”
In Nemitz’s Appeal Brief, he succinctly states:
“The United States, in its defense of the U.S. Department of State’s and NASA’s Official Determinations in this matter of Rights v. Treaty, espouses a position that endorses and is in complete accord with the first plank of the Communist Manifesto.
“1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.” Manifesto of the Communist Party, 1848, Marx
It is unimaginable that when the Outer Space Treaty was being negotiated with the Soviet Union in the United Nations, during 1966-67 at the height of the Cold War, that the American delegation intended for our American society’s fundamental order of private property rights should be completely withheld from the People who will conduct their business and their lives in outer space. The Department of State’s and NASA’s interpretations are a completely abhorrent antithesis to the American way of life. At the time of those Official Determinations and even now, Russia and the CIS (former Soviet Union) have reformed their fundamental societal order to accommodate private property rights, yet the U.S. Dept. of Justice today defends or obfuscates these ludicrous and stifling Official Determinations of the U.S. Dept of State and NASA, as if the United States of America was dominated by a Communist regime.”
Nemitz’s complete Appeal Brief is available for public review at: www.erosproject.com/appeal/apindex.html.
The Eros Project for Space Property Law is primarily sponsored by Beefjerky.com, www.beefjerky.com. Additional support is provided by the Space Age Publishing Company, www.spaceagepub.com. The Eros Project’s legal fund accepts the public’s donations in any amount on its website.
I will be certain to report on future developments as this case wends its slow way up though the American judicial system.