The U.S. is slowly encouraging commercial development on the moon and filing the paperwork to make it happen. Reuters reports that in a letter to Bigelow Aerospace, the Federal Aviation Administration said it intends to “leverage the FAA’s existing launch licensing authority to encourage private sector investments in space systems by ensuring that commercial activities can be conducted on a non-interference basis.”
In plain English, that means Bigelow could set up a proposed inflatable habitat and have exclusive rights to some territory on the moon.
The U.S. State Department doesn’t seem so sure though: the FAA letter noted the Department’s concern that “the national regulatory framework, in its present form, is ill-equipped to enable the U.S. government to fulfill its obligations” under a 1967 United Nations treaty which includes provisions governing activity on the moon. Read more.