Bio - Wes Faires


Over the past ten years I have developed a body of work – in the form of formal clarification backed by Authentication from the past three U.S. Secretaries of State – which I believe provides irrefutable evidence that the Outer Space Treaty does not forbid private property rights.

For nearly half a century, ambiguity surrounding the legality of private property rights under the 1967 Outer Space Treaty has hindered forward progress in the commercialization of space. With interest at an all-time high in private ventures within the commercial space sector such as asteroid mining,, it is time to end the 50-year-old debate once and for all.

In 1967, the U.S., U.S.S.R., and 122 other governments called for a disarmament treaty under the United Nations to ensure peaceful progress during the space race. This Outer Space Treaty contained a clause to prevent annexation of the Moon and other celestial bodies by any nation:  

Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.” [Article II] -

Subsequently, advocates for private-sector property rights have cited as justification for their position the lack of direct prohibition of such rights. For their part, opponents argued that, with no entity to grant property rights and no direct provisions favorable to private citizens, property rights were an impossibility. For fifty years, these assertions have stood without resolution.

In 2003, I filed a Claim of Ownership to the three stars of Orion's Belt with the Knox County, Tennessee, Properties and Deeds Office and with the Library of Congress, and subsequently set a long-term goal of achieving, without litigation, a positive interpretation of the Outer Space Treaty regarding private property rights. Rather than proceed from the standard argument cited above, I took a more indirect approach by considering evidence provided in other treaties addressing property rights in general and, more specifically, those beyond national jurisdictions:

(1) The U.N.'s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone shall have the “right to property” and no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of that right (Art. 17).
(2) The 1957 Antarctic Treaty prohibits the “assertion” of Antarctic territorial claims.
(3) The 1982 Law of the Sea Treaty places specific prohibitions on property rights being granted to “natural persons” within the Deep Sea Bed under international waters.

With the Declaration of Human Rights establishing the primacy of the human right to property absent a specific cause for prohibition and with the Outer Space Treaty falling between the 1957 and 1982 international treaties, which do state a clear limitation of those rights in the instance of the Antarctic and the Deep Sea Bed, it can be deduced that had there been an intention to exclude the right to property of natural persons, the Outer Space Treaty would have clearly so stated. Thus, I have sought a formal determination that the Outer Space Treaty was never intended to restrict the Human Right to property beyond national borders and that therefore the assertion of a claim to property rights by a natural person upon a celestial body is not patently unlawful under the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.

To this end, I pursued an invitation to the annual meeting of the United Nations Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), which I was granted in 2008 as a representative of the private sector. Here I was able to interact directly with the competent authorities from both the U.S. Department of State and the United Nations who interpret and implement treaties pertaining to outer space.

The U.S. Delegation to the COPUOS confirmed that my documentation asserting a claim of ownership to the three stars of Orion's Belt did not constitute a violation of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. With that consultation, I was able to acquire the first Authentication, under U.S. Secretary of State Rice, for legal use abroad of my claim documentation. Since then I have filed similar claims to off-planet property in 9 counties, 5 states, and the District of Columbia, in addition to receiving Authentication under three U.S. Secretaries of State, (including a
Notice of Intent to Preserve Property Rights and Mineral Interest for Minor Planet #160346)

All these filings strengthen the case that no violation of treaty law is -involved in such claims. I thus believe my research confirms without a shadow of a doubt that the assertion of a claim to property rights by a natural person upon a celestial body is not in violation of the Outer Space Treaty. The United States recently validated my research with the passage of a law confirming rights of private entities concerning resources exploited from near-earth asteroids.

With the U.S. work complete, the task of gaining international acceptance of the concept that private property rights in outer space may be lawfully granted under the current treaty framework is now at hand.

At a time where the momentum seems to be in favor of off-planet property rights for the private sector, I stress a very similar scenario from the 1980s, in which The Deep Sea Mining industry saw an influx of enterprise and passage of a unilateral U.S. law supporting mineral rights beyond national jurisdiction. Due to backlash by the international community in the form of the Law of the Sea treaty; Sea Bed Mining is dead in the water. Now, in the 50
th year of the Outer Space Treaty, it is the time to implement a series of actions in the international arena, t o solidify the concept of off-planet property rights, If successful, these actions should lay to rest any argument that private property rights were prohibited by the 1967 Outer Space Treaty for good.