One hundred and thirty-two years ago, 14 men sat at a table and divided up a continent. It was a large table. In fact, everything in the room was large: the heavy velvet drapes, the map of Africa that stretched across a wall. It was also a large continent they were divvying up. In our lifetimes, we will sit with a similar problem to that of the men at the Berlin Conference: how do we divide up land that does not belong to us? Mars, along with all other celestial objects, "belongs to all mankind", according to the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. This effectively means that it belongs to no-one. Professors of imperialism — yes, such a thing really does exist — say we can avoid the mistakes of the past and use Mars as the blueprint for human exploration of, and expansion onto, other planets. The 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which has been ratified by 104 countries, including SA, forms the basis of extraterrestrial law. According to it, space is the "province of all mankind" and "outer space, i...

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