Prime lunar real estate for sale -- but hurry
(CNN) -- Want to buy a piece of land that promises lots of quiet and
great views of the stars? There's a sale going on that's out of this
world. But hurry, the price will soon rise astronomically.
Hollywood celebrities, ex-U.S. presidents, "Star Trek" actors and NASA
employees have joined in the rush to call a piece of the moon their
The brainchild behind the lunar real estate development is Dennis Hope, a U.S. entrepreneur who asserts he secured legal ownership of the moon and most other bodies in the solar system.
Hope's celestial ambitions began 20 years ago when he registered with
the U.S. government a claim to the surface of Earth's moon and the
eight other planets and their satellites. The Californian also sent
notice of his claim the Russian government and the United Nations.
'Head cheese' finds loophole
"They had several years to contest such a claim. They never did," said
Hope, who runs the embassy along with six employees from an office in
Rio Vista, California.
Hope, self-anointed "Head Cheese" of the Lunar Embassy, thinks a loophole in the 1967 U.N. Outer Space Treaty
makes his property assertion legitimate. The agreement forbids
governments from owning extraterrestrial property, but fails to
mention corporations or individuals.
Others reject the claim. Martin Juergens of Germany has said his
ownership of the moon dates back to Frederick the Great. The German
monarch bestowed the spherical body on his ancestor in the 18th
century, according to Juergens.
"(Juergens) said his family was given the moon, but he has no paperwork
to prove that case," said Hope of his Old World rival. "He sent me a
long letter in German, which roughly translated said I should cease and
desist and send him all the money I had made."
Experts in space law dismiss Hope's celestial property ambitions as
"It's either a hollow claim or a fraud," said Frans Von Der Dunk, co-director of the International Institute for Air and Space Law at Leiden
University in the Netherlands.
The 1967 outer space treaty said space "was to remain just like the
high seas, free for use by all," he said.
According to Von Der Dunk, the treaty, by forbidding nations from
appropriating territory in space, essentially prevents individuals from doing the same.
"As soon as you go into private properties rights, you end up in
national rule. The rights of private ownership depend on one national
jurisdiction or another," he said.
Von Der Dunk reasons that without a national system in space, there is
no way for a citizen to authenticate a claim.
Nonetheless, other speculators have laid claim to the moon as well. One in Texas that peddles moon plots suggests buyers book a ride into orbit
aboard the space shuttle and hitchhike the remainder of the way to the moon.
"Even if you don't want to own your own piece of Lunar real estate,
there must be someone that you would like to see go live on another
planet," reads the Web site of www.texusa.com.
The Lunar Embassy Web site cautions against such "highly irresponsible"
"You have been luckier. You have found us first. You will not get a
fake Rolex for twice the price. You will get the real thing, at the
correct lower price."
The properties are legally considered "novelty gifts," but Hope
maintains with a straight face that his real estate sales are
legitimate. Using the novelty term "can help avoid any frivolous
lawsuits from a foreign country," according to Hope.
Real or not, customers don't seem to mind. More than 300,000 people
have purchased properties from Lunar Embassy.
In addition to their lunar plot, buyers receive a deed, a site map, a copy of the lunar constitution bill of rights and a copy of Hope's declaration of ownership filed with the U.S. government. There's also a 30-day money back guarantee.
New buyers should hurry. The cost of a property roughly the size of
Manhattan, almost 18,000 acres, is currently about $27, including the
lunar tax. But after December 26, Hope will sell only 1-acre
plots, for the same amount of money.
Besides the Lunar Embassy in the United States, prospective customers
can contact authorized ambassadors and agents in a growing number of countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom and Sweden.
Reaching for more than the moon? Hope sells or plans to sell properties
on most all the planets and their moons, with one exception, a moon
orbiting Jupiter thought to possess a vast salty ocean.
"Europa will not be for sale. We're going to create the whole thing as
a celestial reserve."
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The United Nations
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International Institute of Air and Space Law
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