National Aeronautics and

Space Administration


Washington, DC 20546-0001


Mar –9 2001

Reply to the Attn of: GS


Mr. Gregory Nemitz

Chief Executive Officer

Orbital Development

3672-A Bancroft Street

San Diego, CA 92104


Dear Mr. Nemitz:

Your letter of February 16, 2000, to the NASA Administrator has been forwarded to me for response. In that letter, you request payment of a $20 "parking/storage fee" for NASA’s Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous Shoemaker spacecraft that landed on the asteroid 433 Eros on February 12 of this year. Your claim alleges that since March 3, 2000 Orbital Development has owned Eros by virtue of a property claim filed on that date with an organization called Archimedes Institute.

Notably absent from your letter is citation to any legal basis for Orbital Development’s claim to own Eros or to any legal significance of a filing with the Archimedes Institute. If you have any such information, please provide it as soon as possible. As you may be aware, the Article II of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, to which the United States is a party, states: "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." 610 U.N.T.S. 205, 18 U.S.T. 2410. If Orbital Development or its principals are U.S. nationals, this treaty provision would seem to preclude any claim to own Eros. Therefore, NASA respectfully declines to make the requested payment at this time.

Should you submit facially reasonable material supporting your claim, NASA will send it, along with your original letter, to the Department of State for its advice and guidance. The State Department has primary responsibility within the executive branch for interpreting and advising on the applicability of U.S. treaty obligations.



Edward A. Frankle

General Counsel

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