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Is everything in outer space hefker? For example if a private person lands on the moon or an asteroid can he be koneh it? Do you retain the rights to something that you send into space?

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Do you mean land or chattel or both? – Double AA Nov 6 '12 at 17:04
Shamyaim belongs to Hashem and aretz belongs to us. – sam Nov 6 '12 at 19:36
@sam pretty sure the aretz belongs to him too ;) – user1668 Nov 6 '12 at 20:01
What about bamidbar? Isn't that a similar case? – Charles Koppelman Nov 6 '12 at 20:38
Why would think you could not be koneh on it? – Ariel Nov 6 '12 at 23:35

First you have to differentiate between Reshut HaRabim and Hefker.

Nobody can do a Kinyan on Reshut haRabim; it belongs to everybody unless the "king" or local equivalent decides otherwise. (Unless you cause damage; it belongs to you insofar as you are responsible for restitution.)

When a tract of land is Hefker you can do a Kinyan - appropriate to land like digging in it - but only that piece of land you dug up is yours. Unless it's fenced in, but then it's probably not Hefker. Fencing in a tract of land may be a Kinyan.

(Based on my reading Tur and Shulchan Aruch Choshen HaMishpat these past few months. How to do Kinyan on an heirless Ger's estate comes to mind.)

So the question really becomes: do things in outer space have the status of Hefker or Reshut haRabim.

As was pointed out, you may not be able to claim ownership of the sea floor, as it probably is Reshut haRabim by common agreement. Once out of territorial waters, ships seem to have a "free route" and nobody would want to change that.

So, do we (sensible earthlings) want outer space to be Hefker or Reshut haRabim?

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See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_Treaty – Ariel K Mar 14 '13 at 18:02
The sea is not reshus harabim - it is a karmelis - see Shabbos 6a – Y ez Jan 22 '14 at 1:39

You couldn't do it halachically anyway. Treaties signed by the major nations declare space as the common heritage of mankind, with ownership of any portion of celestial body by any nation explicitly forbidden. Most opinion articles seem to believe this also extends to private ownership, that the goods created by any private party must be equally shared among all the people of Earth, rich and poor nations alike.

If you are a citizen of a country who is signatory to these treaties, then as a Jew you must obey that treaty, since that is the law of your land. Therefore, sanctification of ownership in this instance should be meaningless.

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What if you renounce your citizenship and move to Mars? – Double AA Nov 29 '13 at 7:29
Laws and international agreements can change or get interpreted away. If private extraterrestrial property ever becomes physically practical, I strongly suspect that corporations and nations will find ways to make it legal. – Isaac Moses Nov 29 '13 at 8:29
@Double AA, not that easy. Most countries will consider you a subject under their laws even if you renounce citizenship. It's called citizenship by blood rather than citizenship by law. If you reached Mars as a stateless person the US would still consider you to be a citizen by blood, and therefore still a subject to their laws for the purpose of the treaty, – Aule Nov 29 '13 at 10:11
@Isaac Moses. It won't happen. The treaties practical result is to keep us grounded and completely remove all possible private incentive. Believe me, no company would want to be the one to lose their shirt to enable all other companies from benefiting from our gains. The laws are stagnating our ability to travel and settle space. – Aule Nov 29 '13 at 10:14
@aule so what about the rest of the countries of the world? – Double AA Nov 29 '13 at 14:24

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